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Spurs end the road trip with a loss to Knicks

For three quarters the Spurs kept it competitive, then came the fourth.

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

In the second night of a back to back and their final contest of a grueling seven game road trip, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the New York Knicks. The Spurs held tough for the first three quarters, but the legs gave out in the final frame as the Knicks took full advantage to pull away and sweep the season series against San Antonio.

The Spurs were still Covid stricken and to make matters worse, back up big, Jock Landale, was ruled out for the game with back spasms. So once again the full defensive attention for the opposition would be on Dejounte Murray. DJ had a few early turnovers, similar to the Philly game where he had to adjust early on to a defense that was completely focused on him. His backcourt partner for the game, Lonnie Walker IV, was aggressive in the first period, getting inside the arc and taking what the defense gave him. Skywalker had six of San Antonio’ first ten points. On the other end of the floor, the Silver & Black were losing their assignments, which led to a pair of open three balls for the home team. Walker who was given a mini rest in the middle of the quarter came back in down the stretch and led the charge to give the Spurs a small lead after one; 26-23.

The guards for San Antonio were getting into the paint in the second quarter which made the Knicks bigs have to step up, and the guards were able to make nice drop off passes to Jakob Poeltl who would finish with or without contact. Unfortunately, the Knicks bigs were also starting to get loose, scoring off rebounds, lobs and drop off passes. Both teams’ offense did start to dry up toward the end of the half, especially from the outside as the perimeter players for each side couldn’t get much to fall as the bigs drove most of the scoring in the quarter. At the half the Knicks had a narrow two-point lead.

The New York player you have to hope doesn’t get hot or the game could get away from you quick is Evan Fournier. So it was to no one’s shock that they tried to get him the ball as much as possible. He obliged by making a few outside shots while also catching the Spurs defenders leaning in which he used to create free throw opportunities. Dejounte was feeling comfortable from mid-range and was looking for that shot constantly as a way to counter Fournier and the Knicks. Just like their first meeting, RJ Barrett came alive and the Spurs just couldn’t deal with him. His surge led to the home team taking a double digit lead but San Antonio fought back to close the margin to seven heading into the final frame.

It was just not to be for the Silver & Black with RJ Barrett continuing his third quarter momentum into the fourth as he took over the game. A number of threes later from other New York players and the Knicks had a 20 plus point lead, and that was game. The ten-day contract players maintained some pride for San Antonio by winning their minutes, but it wasn’t the Spurs day as they fell 111-96 to the Knicks.

Game Notes

  • Fatigue. This was obviously a factor in the loss to New York because the Spurs simply ran out of juice. The energy levels in the fourth were not the same as the first three and they failed to create good looks on offense because of that. San Antonio not having their usual complement of players also did not help, but after seven games on the road in eleven days it was expected that the legs of the Spurs players wouldn’t be there for the full 48.
  • Mirror Image. If you had watched the Spurs first meeting with the Knicks on the 7th of December then there is no reason to watch this one, it was pretty much a carbon copy. San Antonio coming in on a back to back while the Knicks had a day off, RJ Barrett going crazy, New York’s size killing the Spurs and the Knicks out shooting the Silver & Black. All of this occurred in the first meeting as well, the flow of the game was also the same, competitive for the first three periods then the Knicks taking control down the stretch for a double digit win. Luckily for the Spurs, this was also their last meeting of the season with the Knicks. BING BONG.
  • Home Sweet Home. After seven games away from the AT&T Center the Spurs finally head home. They now start a seven game home stand in which they will hope for a better record than the 1-6 they had on the road trip. San Antonio should get all their players back at some point during the next seven games, including Zach Collins for the first time this season.

Play of the Game

Great defense from Primo and then quick, decisive ball movement from Jak and DJ in transition to open up the three for Lonnie.

Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)

With so many starters and key rotation players still out, it should be no surprise that the Spurs three most talented players available were the three SVP point scorers.

3rd place (1 point): Lonnie Walker IV | 27 mins, 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

Walker IV gets in because of the aggressiveness he showed throughout his 27 minutes. He missed 14 shots but the fact he was willing to let it fly and search out his shot is a massive improvement on seasons past. He did start the game hot but was not able to sustain it for four quarters, which is becoming a trend for Lonnie.

2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 24 mins, 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks

Jakob played some amazing defense in this game considering he also had to contend with some long athletic big men. He also provided a nice offensive game in which he made himself available for drop off passes whenever a guard beat their man.

1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 30 mins, 24 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals

A very quiet 24 points for Dejounte against the Knicks. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, as the fact he can score 24 without anyone really noticing is showing the expectations people now have for him as a scorer. He also shot much more efficiently than the night prior against the Nets which was a positive. Not his usual seven to ten rebounds and assists but not playing in the fourth quarter contributed to that.

Overall Leaderboard

1st - Dejounte Murray - 59pts

2nd - Derrick White - 40pts

3rd - Jakob Poeltl - 31pts

4th - Devin Vassell - 27pts

5th - Keldon Johnson - 23pts

6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 17pts

7th - Bryn Forbes - 11pts

8th - Thaddeus Young & Doug McDermott - 9pts

9th - Keita Bates-Diop - 5pts

10th - Jock Landale & Josh Primo - 3pts

11th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts

12th - Tre Jones - 1pt

Next Game: Vs Rockets on Wednesday

The Spurs start their home stand against the rebuilding Houston Rockets. This game will also mark San Antonio’s 41st game of the year, exactly half-way through the NBA season.