KNICKS 100 SPURS 83 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Defense, passing, and ball movement were the three core principles that led to the Knicks strong start to the season and undefeated mark at Madison Square Garden. All three elements returned to New York’s performance in an impressive 100-83 victory over the Spurs on Thursday night.
The Knicks took advantage of a San Antonio team playing its fourth game in five nights and built a seven-point lead heading into the final stanza. Steve Novak put an exclamation point on a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter when he buried a 3-pointer off a pass from Carmelo Anthony.
The spurt forced San Antonio to call for a timeout with 10:22 left in the game but the flood gates opened wide for a Knicks team searching for a win to snap a two-game slide. New York’s lead ballooned to 20 points after J.R. Smith turned a Pablo Prigioni pass into an alley-oop dunk. In fact, the Knicks closed strong by outscoring San Antonio 33-23 in the final period while ending the Spurs seven-game winning streak.
Head coach Mike Woodson adjusted the starting lineup by placing Marcus Camby at power forward next to Tyson Chandler and Anthony in the frontcourt. The move paid off as the Knicks held San Antonio to just 19 first quarter points and they avoided an early deficit.
Anthony led New York with 23 points and eight boards, Smith posted 20 points off the pine, and Amar’e Stoudemire recorded 10 points in his second game back in the lineup. Smith has now registered 20-plus points off the bench in five straight games, the first for a Knick since Jamal Crawford. Prigioni was a key player off the pine as he dished out nine assists and displayed relentless defense on Tony Parker.
The Spurs were held to a season-low for points, Parker only scored 11, Tim Duncan finished with 11, and Manu Ginobili shot 2-of-10 from the floor.
New York improved to 22-10 overall and 13-3 at MSG while San Antonio dropped to 26-9. The Knicks have never lost three consecutive games under Woodson.
“Our communication out there, we were talking to one another, we were very physical. I think that’s what we have to do to get back to our old selves, like we are accustomed to. Playing a good Spurs team like that, I was just so happy for our guys. (Steve) Novak was out there playing hard on defense. Every individual, Pablo (Prigioni) made a huge impact on today’s game. Everybody did their job.” -- J.R. Smith
Smith was a sparkplug off the bench with his 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. The box score only shows three assists but he made smart plays on the offensive side of the court and grabbed five boards in the win. His big alley-oopo and 15 second half points were essential to the Knicks victory on Thursday night.
New York won just about every statistical category by outrebounding San Antonio 48-35, winning the assists battle 26-14, and dominating the points in the paint 36-12.
The Knicks jump on a plane tomorrow to Orlando for a contest against the Magic on Saturday night.