The New York Knicks snapped an 18 game losing streak at Madison Square Garden, scoring at will on their way to a 130-118 thumping of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs tried to script a Hollywood ending a few times in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t to be. The Knicks average only 105 points a game, so of course they scored more than 30 points in each of the four quarters against what has to be the most porous defense in the Gregg Popovich era. After the game, DeMar DeRozan perfectly summarized the Spurs defense as of late:
“Right now, we suck defensively.”
There’s no way to sugarcoat this loss. It’s absolutely awful for a team in the thick of a playoff race to lose to a team hoping to win the Zion Williamson sweepstakes this summer. Neither fanbase will be happy with tonight’s result. The Spurs are in danger of free-falling and are at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in two decades.
In the spirit of the Oscars, and quite frankly, to help me forget about what I had to witness tonight, I’ve decided to piece together tonight’s game recap in the format of an awards ceremony.
Best original song nominee that most resembles tonight’s game
“The Place Where Lost Things Go”
The Spurs now have losses to the Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies (twice), and the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs still have games against the Atlanta Hawks (twice), Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), and one more against the Knicks, so this list may only grow. These losses will likely come back to haunt the Spurs come season’s end. May tonight’s loss, along with the other losses to lottery-bound teams, go where lost things go. I’m not sure where that is exactly, but it’s likely wherever teams with playoff aspirations go to die.
Mitchell Robinson as David Robinson
Mitchell Robinson looked like the most dominant big on the court tonight, scoring 15 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and sending back five shots along the way. It was an excellent showcase for the rookie, and his effort was a huge reason the Spurs were unable to crawl back into the game, even as the Knicks’ shots started to drop less frequently.
Honorable mention: In the 2007 film “I’m Not There,” multiple actors portrayed Bob Dylan during different stages of his life. The Knicks attempted this feat tonight, with both Emmanuel Mudiay and Damyean Dotson portraying Steph Curry. The two combined to go 11-18 from distance. Had it not been for Mudiay attempting a step back three pointer that narrowly grazed the front of the rim, he could have given Robinson a run for his money in the best actor category.
Best game by a player in a Spurs uniform
DeRozan wins this award almost by default, as there was only one other player (who will be mentioned next) who even remotely deserved to be nominated for this award. DeRozan’s performance was very much an Oscar-bait type of performance, aggressively looking for his shot throughout the game. It led to some beautiful buckets, but was also the main reason the Spurs only had six assists in the first half.
It’s hard to be too tough on a guy who scored 32 points on 22 shots, but the Spurs’ style of play is starting to feel so far removed from typical Spurs basketball that the team is hardly recognizable.
Best game by a role player in a Spurs uniform
Jakob Poeltl was the main contributor to the Spurs 16-4 run to end the third quarter, reducing a 23 point deficit down to a manageable 11 points heading into the fourth quarter. He was all over the court and ended the night with 12 points, nine rebounds, and two assists in only 19 minutes. Speaking of which, it seems almost criminal that Poeltl only got 19 minutes in a game where he was cooking and Aldridge was in foul trouble.
Best game by a foreign player in a Spurs uniform
With Patty Mills going 2-14 from the field and Marco Belinelli with an unusually quiet night, Poeltl was easily the best foreigner of the night. Who loves a good Poeltl jam?
Poeltl Jam pic.twitter.com/zS3CbrI4Bx— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 25, 2019
Best individual play
DeRozan gets a lot of criticism for his defense, but in this play, he snuck in for the steal and finished on the offensive end with a graceful and-1.
DeMar making things happen on both ends of the court pic.twitter.com/ZyeLAnkpyI— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 25, 2019
Best team play
Poeltl was doing it all in this one. This time he made an on-target pass to a cutting Dante Cunningham.
Jakob finds Dante for the REVERSE!#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/ytt2IPYdZN— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 25, 2019
Best adapted play
Bryn Forbes’ three pointer got blocked, but Poeltl adapted and nearly got three points the hard way. Unfortunately, he missed the free throw, but it was a great example of how Poeltl does all those non-flashy things that help teams win games.
Never give up on the play— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 25, 2019
Jakob with the hoop and harm! pic.twitter.com/g9wBhhvk2q
Worst call by a referee
At the 5:17 mark in the fourth quarter, a wild play led to an offensive rebound by Allonzo Trier. Trier, while going up for a monster dunk, was emphatically blocked at the rim by DeMar DeRozan. It was as clean as a block can be, but the referee called a foul, leading to two free throw attempts by Trier. After making both, the Spurs found themselves down by ten, stalling one of their many failed attempts at a comeback.
It should be noted that there were several worthy nominations for this award. Maybe I’m just biased, but I truly believe the Spurs have been getting the short end of the stick all season long in terms of calls.
Samuel L. Jackson
At the Oscars, Samuel L Jackson broke the news to longtime Knicks’ fan Spike Lee that the Knicks had defeated the Spurs tonight, ending their 18 game losing streak at home.
Samuel L. Jackson delivered some HUGE news to Spike Lee at the Oscars— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 25, 2019
(via @ABC) pic.twitter.com/BU1CV5yu3m
The timing was perfect, as Spike Lee went on to win his first Oscar for BlacKkKlansman in the “Best Adapted Screenplay” category.
For those always complaining that the Spurs never receive national headlines, there you go. All it took was a loss to the lowly Knicks on the same night the stars were aligned in Los Angeles.
Hopefully this is rock bottom for the Spurs and their fans. Another song nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars was “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.” It’s tough times for Spurs fans right now, but this is the time when true fandom is tested. Hopefully fans will not jump ship and will stick with the Spurs through this tough time. I trust Pop and company to figure things out, if not this season, then sometime in the not-so-distant future.
The Spurs end their annual rodeo road trip on Monday at 6:30 PM against the Brooklyn Nets. This is not the same Nets we have been accustomed to in past seasons. It would be really great to see the Spurs put together a strong performance to cap off a tough stretch of basketball. Regardless of how Monday’s game ends up, I’ll be looking forward to some home cooking starting on Wednesday.