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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Knicks

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San Antonio breaks their losing streak as their four-game road trip ends in New York.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio finally put an end to their eight-game losing streak in a 111-104 victory over the Knicks.

They defeated the worst team in the Eastern Conference, but this win, like many others this season, came with plenty of drama. Despite accumulating a 28-point lead in the third quarter, The Spurs eased off the gas and allowed New York to surge back and cut the lead to just seven points with 3:30 remaining.

Thankfully, seven points was a close as the Knicks would get to snatching their first lead of the night. It wasn’t their smoothest triumph, but our guys did enough to take care of business down the stretch, and that has to mean something, right?

Takeaways:

  • DeMarre Carroll played more than 10 minutes in back-to-back games for the first time this season, and his impact on the floor was immediately noticeable. The eleven-year pro spaced the floor, kept the ball moving, and helped force a turnover within seconds of substituting into the contest. San Antonio has been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA this season, and that will hopefully change as Carroll is un-glued from the bench. Coach Pop seems to have warmed to DeMarre, rolling him out in four straight games. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective, and his energy on the defensive end is a welcome sight for sore eyes.
  • Once again, a double-digit buffer wasn’t safe. A 28-point lead was trimmed to seven, and the Silver and Black were dangerously close to blowing their largest lead of the season. The Spurs have led by ten points nine times in 17 outings, and only once have they held onto that buffer to finish the game. Last season, San Antonio went 42-6 when building a ten-point lead, this year they’re 5-4. That kind of play won’t fly against the league-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. If the Spurs snag an early lead, they better run away with it.
  • As was the case with Carroll, Lonnie Walker IV left a good impression in his limited action. The sophomore shooting guard skied for a rim-rocker and whipped a pass worthy of a double-take. He only played for seven minutes, but maybe this tiny sample size was enough to start pulling himself out of the doghouse. Popovich criticized the young guard for failing to compete against the Clippers earlier this year, but it’s tough to argue he wasn’t among the best competitors when he was on the court.
  • Patty Mills may be one of the worst defenders by the numbers, but you can’t blame his shortcomings on effort. The Aussie hustles on every sequence, and his energy and leadership are invaluable to San Antonio. He’s a great locker room presence, an awesome human being, and the heart and soul of the Spurs is on an offensive crusade this season. Patty is shooting a career-high 49% from the field as well as a career-high 45.7% from beyond the arc. For all of his defensive shortcomings, Mills still brings plenty to the table in year eleven, and his 17 points on 8 attempts are only more evidence he should continue to play a role for this franchise.
  • DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points in the same game for just the third time this season. For reference, San Antonio’s go-to options achieved that feat 24 times a year ago. Right now, they’re on pace 14 such occasions. You can say all you want about their outdated style of play, but the Spurs are going to need their midrange masters to show up if they want to win ball games. The Silver and Black went 19-5 when their All-Star duo scored 20 points in the same game last season, and keeping them engaged is going to be essential versus LeBron James and the new-look Showtime Lakers.