Just three weeks after a dispiriting loss in Madison Square Garden, the San Antonio Spurs (40-29) overpowered a road-weary New York Knicks (13-56) team with hot shooting (53.4%) on 31 assists to take their seventh straight win. Six Spurs scored in double digits led by LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 11 rebounds).
- NBA great Walt Frazier described the opening minutes as having ‘the pace of a pre-season game.’ The New York iteration of DeAndre Jordan now makes passes out of the high post(!) - netting two early assists to the Knick starting guards. Frazier described DeMar DeRozan’s game as ‘dishing and swishing.’ DeRozan notched a pull-up baseline jumper and a runner in the lane to fulfill the swishing component. Then he dished a beautiful pocket pass to a rim-running LaMarcus Aldridge for a dunk to put the Spurs up 17-11. Davis Bertans demonstrated his expanding defensive repertoire with a solid closeout on a Noah Vonleh jumper and then walled off a Vonleh drive for another miss.
- Knick reserve Kadeem Allen, fresh from G-league affiliate Westchester, made an immediate impact via two twisting layups and seemed to get into the lane whenever he wanted to. Both teams traded baskets for the waning minutes of the quarter before a 7-0 run by two Patty Mills jumpers sandwiched around a floater by the noticeably trimmer Rudy Gay pushed the lead to 11. Mitchell Robinson appeared to end the stanza with a tip jam, but review ruled it to be after the buzzer and the Spurs retained a 31-20 lead.
- Both teams struggled to get any offense going throughout the second quarter. Two-way stalwart Derrick White, in consecutive defensive possessions, blocked Emmanuel Mudiay’s leaner and drew a charge on an Alonzo Trier elbow, then deftly fed Jakob Poeltl for a Jak-jam to make it 35-22. Vonleh later came down on Dante Cunningham’s foot awkwardly after a dunk attempt and injured his ankle in the process. Aldridge and DeRozan carried the offense midway through the period, and Frazier referred to San Antonio’s scoring methods as ‘posting and toasting.’ Marco Belinelli and Rudy Gay paced the Spurs bench and the Spurs went into the break leading 56-41 on 54.5% shooting. Allen led the Knicks with 11 points on 5-6 shooting.
- The Knick guards came out in the third period, spearheaded by Damyean Dotson (14 points), with the perimeter shooting magic they conjured up against San Antonio last month to cut into the lead. Aldridge countered with his own hot touch to the tune of eight points on a variety of jumpers. Belinelli, instead of taking one of his patented leaning jumpers, drove into the lane to put up an awkward underhanded scoop for a 3-point play, and he ended the Knicks final possession of the quarter with a steal to keep the Spurs ahead 82-69 going into the final period.
- The Spurs reserves, led by Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl, scored at ease on the Knicks while forcing them into several turnovers to extend the lead to 19. As part of a 9-0 run, Bryn Forbes dove on the floor after deflections on two Knicks possessions to help force New York into poor shots late in the shot clock, and White found Davis Bertans along the baseline for an emphatic jam to push the lead to 97-73. Pop then emptied the Spurs bench to presumably to rest the starters for tomorrow night’s game. Lonnie Walker IV had a decent pass to Chimezie Metu for a monster dunk. Dejounte Murray, Walker IV, and White may comprise the best defensive backcourt - along with the best collective hair - within the next couple of seasons.
- This question may have been asked ad nauseum, but are any of you thrown off or the least bit bothered, while in arena or on the broadcast, by the background music blaring during the Spurs offensive possessions? Or am I hurtling unabated into the throes of my middle age?
- In the second quarter, Belinelli somehow managed to hit both the backboard and the rim on a leaning baseline miss. During the Spurs victory over the Bucks Sunday, and while watching Marco convert a fading 3 pointer late in the fourth quarter to put his team up 100-86, I commented to J.R. Wilco that “I love the leaning Marco 3s - except I can’t come up with an acronym.” No more than 15 seconds later, J.R. coined the latest entry into the PtR lexicon - introducing the ‘MCL’ which will now stand for ‘Marco’s Crazy Leaners!’ As we would want in real life and in athletics, a structurally sound ‘MCL’ is the key to basketball bliss!
- To put the franchise’s recent history of poor ownership, management, and on-court futility in perspective, New York’s 56 losses have already been surpassed by previous Knick teams three times in the last 15 years. On the other hand, the only San Antonio campaigns which ended near that total are: Dallas Chaparrals (ABA) 1972-73 (28-56), 1988-89 (21-61), and 1996-97 (20-62). It’s also worth noting that all-time Spur greats George Gervin (1974), David Robinson (1989), and Tim Duncan (1997) joined the franchise immediately following those seasons.
Other Games of Interest
The Spurs continue their four game homestand tomorrow night with a SEGABABA against Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and the Blazers. Have a great evening!