The Spurs came into tonight’s game against a New York Knicks team with a solid 15-6 record at home looking to fight off their own road demons. While the Spurs weren’t great tonight, the effort that was lacking in the loss to Detroit was definitely there, and it was enough to secure a 100-91 win.
The Silver and Black won this one by outscoring the Knicks by a total of 18 points in the middle two quarters. Despite a horrific fourth quarter that saw the Spurs only hit 4-20 shots to drop them to below 40 percent shooting for the game, the Spurs managed to keep the Knicks at arms-length by playing good defense, crashing the boards, and getting to the free throw line.
They were led by LaMarcus Aldridge’s 29 points and a season-high 25 from Kawhi Leonard. Pau Gasol, Davis Bertans and Manu Ginobili also scored in double figures for the Spurs, while Michael Beasley led the Knicks with 18 points off the bench. All the of the Knicks starters scored between 10 and 13 points.
Perhaps the biggest note of the night was after Leonard again struggled early on offense, missing his first five threes, he adjusted and started attacking the rim more. That opened up the rest of the game for him, and he finished the night looking much more comfortable and hitting his last three three-pointers.
- Tonight’s game pitted the youngest French player in NBA history, Frank Ntilikina (19), against the oldest in NBA history: Tony Parker (35). Parker was also 19 in his first season but Ntilikina was a few months younger when he entered the league.
- Maybe the Spurs’ boring ways this season are lulling opposing crowds to sleep, but they have visited road venues recently that are usually pretty loud and intimidating but were relatively quiet most of the night. Tonight was one of them, Portland and Utah also come to mind.
- This season’s officiating in a nutshell: in the first quarter, the refs called a loose-ball foul on Bertans while he was boxing out Kyle O’Quinn in what appeared to be a perfectly legal manner. In fact, most of the contact was O’Quinn elbowing Bertans on the throat and throwing him down in retaliation. The refs reviewed the play and called a technical on O’Quinn, but the foul on Bertans stood (not that they could overturn it anyway), and Pop still seemed pretty befuddled as to why there was a foul on the Spurs in the first place.
- Late in the second quarter, Manu’s Argentinean contingent started chanting his name. The MSG crowd didn’t appreciate it and started booing, so of course Manu answered with a three and steal as part of a 13-4 run to close out the half. This later turned into a contest of if his fans could out-cheer Knicks fans’ boos with him at the free throw line.
- No lie: Beasley got some MVP chants during free throws in the third quarter. He probably hasn’t heard that since his Kansas State days.
- This was a first for me and apparently the refs as well: toward the end of the third quarter, a Manu pass from beyond the arc accidentally went in the basket. It was so quick and awkward that neither the Knicks nor the refs realized it as they dribbled the perceived rebound/steal up the court without taking the ball out first. The officials stopped play after some Spurs pleading and seemed befuddled about what they could do about it, if anything. They finally agreed that they could review it at the next dead ball, and by the beginning of the fourth quarter the Spurs had their three points.
The Spurs improved to 26-12 overall and 9-10 on the road. Tonight they are taking the train to Philadelphia for a showdown with the upstart 76ers tomorrow. Tip-off will be at 6:00 PM CT.