San Antonio @ New York, Final Score: Spurs fall to the Knicks, 94-90

The Spurs had their worst shooting night of the year and lost a close one to the Knicks.

The Spurs shot just 36% from the field and were again doomed by a poor third quarter, losing to the Knicks 94-90. Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points, but he didn’t receive much help as the Spurs offense was stuck in mud for most of the night. Here is how it all went down.

The starters were:

Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon

Knicks: Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez

First Quarter:

The Spurs opened up the game with some cold shooting. The wing combo of Leonard and Green started 2-8 combined, with Kawhi’s lone make a midrange jumper and Green’s a wide open “Tar Heel Triple.” The Spurs were able to get decent looks though, and the hustle of LaMarcus Aldridge and Dewayne Dedmon on the boards kept the game close early. The Spurs defense, which by design limits opposing looks at the rim and the three point line, conceded some midrange looks to the Knicks early, but soon clamped down, forcing 9 turnovers leading to 11 points. Kyle Anderson had a particularly nice and-one bank shot after an open court Euro-step. The Spurs led 21-18 after the first quarter.

Notable first quarter stat: Thanks to those turnovers and 9 offensive rebounds, the Spurs attempted 27 field goals (33.3%) in the first quarter to the Knicks’ 12 (58.3%).

Second Quarter:

The Spurs allowed an 8-5 mini-run to start the second quarter, prompting a timeout from Coach Popovich. Soon after, Kawhi came back in the game and began to dominate. At one point the All-Star rattled off 8 consecutive points for the Spurs, propelling them to a 12-point lead. Some sloppy defense from San Antonio allowed the Knicks to close the gap to 6 by halftime, as Rose took advantage of his athleticism and some late defensive rotations from the Spurs. Even with the lackluster finish to the half, the Spurs grew their lead in the second period and went to the locker room up 48-42.

Notable second quarter stat: After a slow start, Leonard had 12 points (5-8 shooting) in the second quarter.

Third Quarter:

The Spurs had a hangover from the second quarter as they allowed New York to go on a 9-0 run to start the third. That made it 15 straight for the Knicks, dating back to the first half. Pop yanked Leonard less than three minutes into the third, and after some quick coaching put him back in the game. Leonard stopped the bleeding with a jumper and David Lee got three tough buckets to go, but not much else was going right for San Antonio. The Spurs failed to force a turnover in the third, and the Knicks took the quarter 27-17 and led 69-65.

Notable third quarter stat: The Spurs shot just 30.4% (7-23) in the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter:

The sloppy play continued into the final quarter, as neither team was able to mount much of an offense. On offense, the Spurs let the ball stick way too much, and when they did get open looks they weren’t able to convert very often. Leonard gave his best effort, scoring 15 in the final quarter, but there wasn’t enough help around him. Kawhi forced a turnover with the Spurs down 4 and 27 seconds remaining, but they weren’t able to convert and the game was effectively over. Give credit to the Knicks, who were very active on defense, but the Spurs looked lethargic almost the entire game and weren’t able to find enough energy down the stretch.

Notable fourth quarter stat: Carmelo Anthony, quiet for most of the game, scored 10 of his 25 points in the final quarter, including some huge buckets in crunch time. He also had 11 in the third.

Game Notes:

  • The Spurs opened with Leonard guarding Courtney Lee and Green on Carmelo Anthony. This year Pop has had Green cover some of the elite offensive players in the league year and switched to Kawhi as a closer. Kawhi eventually guarded Anthony for a couple of minutes in the second quarter and for stretches in the fourth.
  • A really fun sequence happened in the second quarter, with Davis Bertans and Porzingis becoming the first two Latvians to share the floor of an NBA game. Guarding one another, each allowed a three pointer.
  • Tony Parker failed to score in the game against one of the worst defensive point guard rotations in the league. Not Tony’s best night.
  • Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge combined to shoot just 7-29.
  • Leonard’s full box score line: 36 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals. He’s become a remarkably complete player.
  • The Knicks have been in the middle of drama lately, due to the Charles Oakley/James Dolan feud. I’m sure it was completely coincidental that former Knicks Latrell Sprewell, Larry Johnson, Bernard King, and Bill Bradley were in attendance and were given video tributes in Madison Square Garden.

Up next for the Spurs: a short turnaround, as they travel to Indianapolis to face Paul George and the Pacers tomorrow evening.

Source: Pounding The Rock

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