By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 105, SPURS 101 | AT&T CENTER
How it happened:
It was the first game of a new year and the Knicks had an opportunity to start fresh. On the first night of a daunting three-game, four-night Texas road trip, they wiped the slate clean and responded by turning back the clock in a signature 105-101 win against the Spurs.
Iman Shumpert delivered a career performance, exploding for 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 6-of-8 from 3. But of all the damage he did from deep, his biggest bucket came on a putback right at the rim with 23 seconds to go.
A back-and-forth affair, starring Marco Belinelli (32 points) for the Spurs, the teams traded daggers down the stretch. After Shumpert drained a 3 to beat the shot clock with 39.1 seconds to go, Belinelli answered right back to tie the game at 101.
It was Shumpert's one-handed rebound and tip in of a Carmelo Anthony miss that gave New York a decisive103-101 lead.
With Anthony back in the lineup, the offense opened up for everyone and the Knicks torched San Antonio by shooting 51 percent from the floor and 53 percent from 3. Melo gained steam over the course of the game and by the end had contributed 27 points and 12 rebounds to the effort. His two free throws, up two, with seven seconds left sealed the victory.
It was reminiscent of the last time the Knicks played at AT&T Center, when they won by a nearly identical score (104-100) as they improved their record to 6-0.
This was a team win that featured good ball movement, defensive communication and balanced scoring. Amar'e Stoudemire gave them a lift with 11 points off the bench, Toure' Murry was solid as the backup point guard, and Tyson Chandler knocked down two more 18-foot jumpers. Tonight, they adjusted to San Antonio's hot shooting from the perimeter, closing out harder on shooters after giving up 9-of-12 in the first half.
Knick of the Night:
Melo was fantastic in his return from a sprained ankle that may still bother him, but Shumpert's breakout wins him the night. He was locked in from the opening tip, carrying the offense early when Anthony was still shaking off the rust. His intensity was contagious as he pulled down six rebounds and caused three steals. His poise in the final moments evoked memories of Game 6 in Indiana.
The Knicks head to Houston tomorrow for a back-to-back test against Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Rockets on MSG.