On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks (22-10) defeated the San Antonio Spurs (26-9) by the score of 100-83. Box Score
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring with 23 points on 9-20 shooting from the field. He added eight rebounds and three assists.
J.R. Smith scored 20 points off the bench and was a +27. He added five rebounds, three assists and has scored 20+ for the fifth consecutive game coming off the bench.
The Spurs were led in scoring by Gary Neal (!!) as he scored 12 points off the bench. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan each scored 11 points and only played 24 minutes.
Pablo Prigioni had six points, three steals and a game high nine assists in 27 minutes off the bench. Jason Kidd only played 21 minutes and five points, three assists and two rebounds.
Tyson Chandler had 10 points and a game high 14 rebounds with four assists.
Steve Novak scored 15 points off the bench, hitting on five of his seven three point attempts. Amar’e Stoudemire had 10 points and two rebounds in 21 minutes of action off the bench.
The Knicks out-rebounded the Spurs 48-35 and had a 26-14 advantage over the Spurs in assists.
The Spurs had averaged an NBA best 105.9 points per game and had averaged 111.7 points in their seven game winning streak.
The Knicks have swept the season series from the Spurs for the first time since the 2002-2003 season.
The Knicks have still not lost two games in a row at home since Mike Woodson took over as head coach.
Before the game tonight, Mike Woodson told the media that the Spurs were “the best team in the NBA”. For one night, the Knicks made them look like one of the worst. The Knicks moved the ball, hit threes and played great defense from wire to wire. The formula that won them so many games earlier in the season was back in full force tonight. The Knicks heard the criticism from the outside and from the coaching staff about their defense and slow starts. Against a great team in the Spurs, they ended those trends with authority. The Knicks are now 4-0 against the Spurs and the Heat this season and have won by 17+ in three of those wins. Not bad at all.
- Carmelo Anthony did a nice job throughout the night battling the Spurs defense, to not only find his own shot, but move the ball to find the open man. His energy and talents are so key for the Knicks and, as obvious as this is, the Knicks are so much better when he is out there playing at his best, like he has all season. I really have no desire to see the Knicks play any more games this season without Melo being able to play. The Knicks are Carmelo Anthony’s team and his great play this season bears that out. The Knicks are 19-7 with him and 3-3 without him.
- J.R. Smith has been so good replacing the scoring that was lost when Raymond Felton went out with his injury. Tonight when he came into the game, he once again proved that coming off the bench just works for him and it’s what the Knicks need from him. I know that most of the fans want him to start, but his minutes during games are really starter type minutes and he is perfect for the 6th man role. He has been so good this season that now people are starting to wonder if he could make a run at the All-Star game. I think it would tough for him to make it, but he most certainly is playing at an All-Star Level. Also, this alley-oop he had off the beautiful feed from Prigioni was just ridiculous.
- Amar’e Stoudemire was solid and certainly took another step forward in his return from pre-season knee surgery. He is missing that explosiveness around the rim and is still rusty with the jumper, but those will come in time. I think the more he plays and gets comfortable out there, the better he will be. STAT is an important part of the future success of this team and I think there will be more positive to come from his return than negative.
- Give Mike Woodson credit for seeing that Kurt Thomas is just not worth starting at this point and trying Camby at the power forward spot. He give the Knicks more length inside and better interior defense and it showed tonight. The Knicks dominated the boards against a good rebounding team in the Spurs and forced them into a lot of jump shots as well. I think that once Felton comes back, the lineup will see Melo back at the four. But, the idea of Camby, Sheed and Stat being able to come off the bench, spell Chandler and help against bigger teams, will be important as the season goes on.
- What a nice job from Pablo Prigioni tonight off the bench. The first thing that he allowed the Knicks to do was to limit Jason Kidd’s minutes after he had been playing 30+ since Felton went down. The other thing he was doing was making smart, aggressive decisions with the basketball. He drove the lane, found the open man and was orchestrating the offense at an exceptional level. His play has been up and down this season as he gets used to the NBA style of basketball, but if he can build off this game, the Knicks will be in good shape until Shumpert and Felton come back.
- The Spurs are a great team, and yes they most certainly looked tired playing their fourth game in five nights, but every team deals with that. I refuse to allow anyone to use that as a way to downplay this win for the Knicks. Considering the struggles that they had the past two games against Portland and Sacramento, they were able to take full advantage of the tired Spurs and hammer them. Lets be honest, a tired Spurs team is still a lot better than a fully rested Kings and Blazers team, and the Knicks took care of business tonight.
The Knicks showed that the style of play, that had seen them become so successful earlier in the year, was just on a small hiatus. For the first time since Rasheed Wallace went down, the defense was aggressive, suffocating and frustrating for the opposition all night long. The Knicks in games like this look like the best team in the league and you can only hope that more performances like this are in the future. With games coming up, against Boston, Indiana and Chicago, the Knicks will need to play this well and if they do, will once again reassert their dominance in the Eastern Conference.
Coming up next, the Knicks are back on the road, looking to continue their winning ways as they go up against, Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo and the Orlando Magic. The game will begin at 7:00 pm on Saturday and will be shown on MSG.