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Spurs come out sluggish in loss to Knicks

On the second night of a back to back, the Spurs fail to muster much energy as the Knicks cruise to victory; 121-109

NBA: New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

For the second night in a row, the San Antonio Spurs fail to win, this time falling to the New York Knicks. The Spurs battled hard all night long, but two games in two nights was just too much, as the Knicks found more energy to hold on to win, and move back to 0.500. New York wins; 121-109.

The Spurs started the game going to their big man, Jakob Poeltl, who finished nicely around the rim a few times. San Antonio were unable to get any separation on the scoreboard because of turnovers and missed free throws. The Spurs were doing a good job on the defensive end, slowing down Julius Randle, as he went 0/2 in the first quarter. Doug McDermott got going late in the first, as two threes in the final minute brought San Antonio level after one; 28-28.

The Knicks started fast in the second, scoring at will. Derrick White was trying to keep the game close with a few mid-range jumpers but the Knicks size was killing the Spurs. New York were getting every rebound and scoring on the inside with ease. Then after a Derrick Rose three, the Knicks had their first double-digit lead of the night. The Spurs did fight back a bit before half-time as they made a few buckets, while combining that with some stops. The Knicks still led at the half; 62-56.

After the Knicks hit two open three-pointers to start the third, Pop called a time-out to try and light a fire under his guys. The Spurs then cut the lead to 5, as Keita Bates-Diop provided a spark. Then Julius Randle who scored 0 field goals in the first-half started to get it going in the second. As he hit two straight contested threes to push the Knicks lead back to double figures. To make matters worse, Evan Fournier then got hot from the outside, as the Spurs were barely hanging on. As RJ Barrett, Randle and Fournier couldn’t miss, the Spurs were front rimming all their threes, as they missed 5 straight to end the quarter. They headed into the 4th down 14; 95-81.

Pop deployed a 4 guard lineup to start the final period to help provide the Spurs with some much needed energy and floor running. Unfortunately, the Spurs were not able to sustain momentum, as they couldn’t get two straight buckets to fall, while getting stops on the defensive end. Last year’s MIP Julius Randle finished the Spurs off, as he started to ISO against the Spurs defenders and was hitting jumpers off it. Then when the Spurs double teamed Randle, he found RJ Barrett who nailed a three and killed San Antonio off for good. As Pop emptied his bench, New York comfortably won; 121-109.

Game Notes

  • Keldon Johnson. KJ suffered a right ankle sprain in this game, when he landed on Jakob Poetl shoe. He tried to come out in the second half to play, but a minute later he was back to the locker room and ruled out for the game. Hopefully, this isn’t a serious injury, but Derrick White who had an ankle sprain towards the end of last season, ended up missing the final few weeks because of it.
  • Low Energy. The Spurs had very little energy throughout this game and it isn’t much of a surprise as they were playing in a road to home back to back. It is a little disappointing considering they are a young team, but to be fair they have been playing extremely hard the first 22 games of the year, so I guess they were in for a dud of a game, energy wise. The low energy wasn’t just physical it also affected them mentally as they had little focus and made some poor errors on both ends of the floor. They should be able to bounce back in two days at home against the Nuggets.
  • Lack of Size. The Spurs got killed on the boards tonight. 52-42 total rebounds. While allowing 17 offensive boards. The Spurs bigs were getting mauled by Noel, Robinson, Randle and Toppin. Thad Young didn’t play in this one, most likely because of matchup reasons as he would have not helped on the boards due to his lack of size. It will be nice to see Zach Collins when he gets healthy as he has great size for a center and because of his ability to stretch the floor, he can play in two big man lineups, which would have been very handy against the Knicks. Jock Landale also would have been nice to see get real minutes, as he has good size, but Pop decided against, and Jock just played in garbage time, where he was productive.

Play of the Game

You don’t see many alley-oops from the Spurs, so this had to be play of the game.

Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)

3rd place (1 point): Keita Bates-Diop | 16 minutes, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal

When Keldon went out, Pop went with KBD in the lineup and he played well. Keita cut well on offense and made his layups, while playing tough defense against Randle. Sometimes the player just makes the shot, but that doesn’t mean the defense was bad. First SVP points of the season for KBD!

2nd place (2 points): Doug McDermott | 25 minutes, 13 points, 3 assists, 3 three-pointers

Since returning from injury, Doug has shot the ball well and tonight was no exception. He is a bucket from the outside and when the Spurs offense stalls he is a great weapon to have.

1st place (3 points): Derrick White | 34 minutes, 26 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 9/18 fgs

Derrick was really the only Spur that had it going tonight on the offensive side of the ball. 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, while hitting all 5 of his free throws. 7 assists and 6 rebounds as well, while playing solid defense like usual. After some really good performances last week before a dud again Phoenix, it is nice to know that Derrick has it going and the Suns game was just an aberration.

Overall Leaderboard

1st - Dejounte Murray - 41pts

2nd - Devin Vassell - 20pts

3rd - Derrick White - 19pts

4th - Keldon Johnson - 15pts

5th - Jakob Poeltl - 14pts

6th - Thaddeus Young - 9pts

7th - Doug McDermott - 7pts

8th - Bryn Forbes - 5pts

9th - Lonnie Walker IV - 3pts

10th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts

11th - Jock Landale, Josh Primo & Keita Bates-Diop - 1pt each


Next Game: Vs Nuggets on Thursday

The Spurs now have two straight games against the Denver Nuggets at the AT&T center. With the Nuggets injury problems this season, this is a great chance to get a few wins that in a normal circumstance wouldn’t be likely.