It was the tale of the stars for the Spurs, as LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard tortured the Knicks on both ends of the floor. The pair combined for 54 points and anchored their team defensively, as the Spurs walked out of the storied MSG arena with their first victory in 2018. After such an embarrassing night against the Pistons, it has to be a huge boost for this team to walk into a road matchup and execute at a high level. Here are a few takeaways from the Silver and Black’s bounce-back performance.
- Kawhi Leonard set the tone early and often against the Knickerbockers. The former MVP delivered one of his most complete games of the season, and he logged 30 minutes as his restriction continues to evaporate. What stood out the most about his performance was the multiple ways he attacked the New York defense. His jumper was fluid, his passing out of double teams and the pick and roll was the best I’ve seen this season, and his athleticism (per usual) proved to be superior any time he found himself attacking the rim. It took some time, but it appears the Klaw is back and ready to strike.
- Probably the most intriguing takeaway from the Spurs’ night in the Big Apple was the clinic LaMarcus Aldridge put on against the New York’s front court. The former Longhorn thrived with the extra attention paid to Leonard, as he carved Jeff Hornacek’s team up on the inside. When #12 can pick his spots, he performs like a top 5 player in this league. If he and Leonard continue to gell the way they did Tuesday tonight, you can bet the entire Western conference will be on notice.
- It may have only been 14 minutes of court time, but what a game by Dejounte Murray! The exciting young point guard was a burst of energy when he took the floor. His size, athleticism, and ability to get to the rim make him a nightmare for undersized guards trying to defend him. What I have loved from his time on the floor this season has been what I call the “Kawhi treatment” that he’s received from the coaching staff. It’s obvious PATFO want to take their time developing the youthful slasher, but they’ve also done a great job of finding small ways for him to make a difference when he checks into the game. One example of this is how he immediately pushes the pace if he is the one to secure a defensive rebound (the staff granted Kawhi the same luxury as a way to get him extra touches early in his career). He has shown the ability to abuse defenders on his way to the rim when he has a full head of steam, so it is great to the staff give him the green light in certain scenarios that he is comfortable in.
- Seriously, what else is there to say about Manu Ginobili. The dude is relentless. The surefire hall of famer did it all in the Garden, as he delivered another vintage performance in perhaps his last time ever suiting up in the historic venue.
- It was a strange night for Kyle Anderson. For as aggravating as he was to watch on the offensive end (I literally lost track of the number of open looks he passed up), he put together one of his best defensive games of the season. Despite his timidness with the ball in his hands, he was tenacious when he was guarding it. #1 not only held his own against the all-star Kristaps Porzingis, but he also was the cause of multiple offensive blunders by the Knicks. His positioning and awareness have helped tremendously whenever teams have tried to take advantage of him this year. If he can regain the offensive aggressiveness he started the season with, he’ll be a deadly weapon coming off of Gregg Popovich’s bench.
- Davis Bertans had a solid night of work against his Latvian homie, Porzingis. The sharpshooter looked very comfortable on the offensive end, firing at will behind the arc and battling for offensive rebounds on a few occasions. If he can continue to shore up his positioning and help-defense on the other end of the floor, he might just sneak into that playoff rotation after all. I’m rooting for you, DB.