Well, I suppose it had to happen eventually. The Spurs finally dropped a game to a bad team. Thursday night, the Spurs took on the New York Knicks and the Silver and Black played terribly. The Knicks are not very good at basketball so the Spurs were able to get back in the game and even took the lead in the fourth, but in the end, they earned a loss. It was a frustrating game to watch. The final tally was the Spurs 101, the Knicks 105.
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The starters came out of the gate looking lethargic. They were not hustling to their spots when on offense, and it infected their defense. Each possession felt as if they were trying to milk the shot clock, even though they weren't. If it was not for Marco Belinelli's new role in the starting lineup, I bet the Spurs would have found themselves down by 15 before the second unit checked into the game.
Marco, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner were the only Spurs to have above average games. That's probably all you need to know about how the night went but I'm supposed to fill up this page so I'll elaborate. Marco scored the Spurs' first 10 points, but all it served to do was keep the Spurs in the game since the rest of the starters forgot to show up. For the Knicks, Iman Shumpert, who was averaging 6.2 ppg heading into last night's game, scored 11 in the opening quarter and the Knicks led by one after the first, 26-25.
In the second quarter, the Spurs' superb bench came in and did what they've done all season. They opened the quarter with a 13-3 run and forced the Knicks to stop the action down 38-29. I was hopeful that the bench had cured the Spurs of their lethargy, but the good guys didn't score for the next three minutes and suddenly the Knicks found confidence. Once that happened, the Spurs were in for a battle.
As you can see from the game flow, the third quarter did not go well. The Spurs began it down by five and finished down by six. They never were able to get over the hump in the third. After a Beno Udrih shot, the Spurs were down by 11 with three minutes remaining in the quarter. While Beno didn't have a loud game against his former team, he had an impactful one. He finished with 10 points and seven assists on the night and hit several shots to keep the Spurs at bay.
In the fourth, the Spurs finally began moving with decisiveness, but fell short. They managed to take a two-point lead after two free throws by Kawhi, but Tony missed two shots in a row while Melo converted a layup and Shumpert hit a three to give the Knicks a three point advantage with 39 seconds remaining.
Out of a timeout, Pop drew up a great play that freed Marco beyond the 3-point line for his sixth of the game to tie it at 101. Obviously, the guy who averaged 6.2 ppg for the season, Shumpert, then made a jumper for his 27th point of the night to regain the lead for the Knicks. Marco missed a contested three and that was the ballgame.
- Well, let's begin with some positive mentions. Marco Belinelli played his best game so far as a Spur. He finished with 32 points on 12 of 16 shooting, six of nine from deep and was the only reason the Spurs had a chance at winning this one in the fourth. Without him, the Spurs would have been blown out of the gym, and maybe that's what they really deserved.
- Manu Ginobili made just one of his six 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points on the night. He missed two crucial threes in the fourth that may have changed the outcome had they fallen, but they did not. However, he did have 12 assists tonight and seemed to be about ten times as active as our point guard, so good job by him.
- Patty Mills and Matt Bonner make up the rest of the list of Spurs that showed up. Patty scored eight points on three of four shooting while Bonner finished with nine points on three of five shooting. Each only played 14 and 13 minutes, respectively, which is too low given how the rest of the team fared.
- Tim Duncan's game really summarizes how it went for the Spurs as a whole. He scored nine points making three of eight shots and grabbed seven rebounds in 32 minutes. It was a forgettable night for the entire team. It was just a dud of a game.
- Tony Parker was invisible out there. He had a few nice drives, but the whole lane was wide open the entire night and he seemed passive. The Knicks were getting away with extremely physical play, but they're the Knicks and couldn't defend the hoop if you gave them a sledgehammer to help them out. The Knicks were without their two best guards tonight, and I really thought this was going to be a 35-12 game for Tony. Instead, he scored 12 points on 13 shots and had seven assists in 34 minutes.
- I don't know what to do with Kawhi. I read Stampler's articles about rainbows, leprechauns, Kawhi and pots of gold and I think to myself, 'Maybe I'm the one that's crazy.' Then I watch a Spurs game and think, 'Nope, Stampler is nuts.' One of five from the field, five of eight from the line, four points, four assists and a turnover in 28 minutes. Bleh. His only move is to force a shot. I'm not the only one that sees this, right?
Nothing comes easy to him. He's either going one-on-three on a fast-break or taking a JR Smith-type contested two-pointer with less fluidity. He's too rigid. He thinks and then acts. "Time for a pump fake, two dribbles and a shot." Then, regardless of how the defense responds, he pump fakes, takes two dribbles and shoots. What is that? Maybe he's too up in his own head. That'd explain the three crucial free-throws he missed in a row. He's just not reacting like a basketball player should. Everything seems premeditated and forced right now.
- Diaw played on a full stomach. He didn't eat today, it was just full. (Like that Diaw lover number one? It's a fat joke.) 11 minutes, one rebound and two turnovers. That's his entire stat line. Really, given how poorly so many Spurs played, it's crazy they had a chance to win this one. Good thing we played the Knicks.
- Danny "Big" Green went 0-5 from deep in 18 minutes. Funny enough, that's a good game when you play for Dartmouth. 'You took five threes? Way to go, man! The line is three deep. Play some 7, 11 or doubles while you wait.'
- The Knicks aren't good but Melo played well tonight. He scored 27 points on 20 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. He is a headache to defend. Melo uses his body as well as anyone I've ever watched on the offensive end of the floor. When Kawhi or Danny tried to get physical with him, he used their momentum against them. I felt like I was watching a Judo master fight in the UFC.
- Shumpert finished with 27 points on just 13 shots and absolutely demoralized the Spurs. Whenever the Spurs made a push, he answered. Amare Stoudemire also played great for the Knicks. He made a few clutch shots as well and had several impressive dunks. I thought he was finished, but it seems he's been working hard with his rehab and is getting back to his former playing level. I always liked Stoudemire. I appreciate the way he competes without being a dirty player. Even though he doesn't know how to play defense, I feel like he has some Tim in him. It's a shame that he's lost the last several years to injuries.
For New York's perspective please visit SBNation's Knicks' blog.