New York Knicks 104, San Antonio Spurs 100: “We ran out of gas.”

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AT&T CENTER — For all the talk coming into the game of Carmelo Anthony leading the Knicks at power forward, it was Raymond Felton playing the traditional point guard that sunk the Spurs in a 104-100 win over San Antonio. Felton scored 25 points, eight in the fourth quarter, to help New York erase a 12-point deficit in the final period.

Melo, who faced Spurs big men DeJuan Blair and Boris Diaw in the first half and swingmen Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson in the second, finished with nine points on 3-12 shooting.

“Kawhi’s just learning how to guard somebody that’s as amazing as Carmelo. Jack, I thought was really good,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “[Carmelo’s] a great player… and you’re not going to stop him, but I thought Jack gave him a good run.”

The Spurs started with Blair at the power forward and put him on Melo defensively, which worked fine. Melo never went off, but the Knicks were still able to build a eight-point second quarter lead behind a 7-10 start from the 3-point line.

It wasn’t until the Spurs matched New York’s small ball approach, sending Leonard back into the game for Diaw, that the Spurs went on a run. San Antonio closed the second quarter outscoring New York 15-7 to close the half and took a 57-55 lead into halftime.

The Spurs went back to the two-big approach in the third quarter, but made another run, 10-5 to close the period, when they went small again. Eventually, the Knicks turned up the pressure defensively and the Spurs weren’t able to respond with made shots.

When you start a player with the defensive ability of Tyson Chandler and get athletes like Melo and J.R. Smith to give effort on that end, you can really create a suffocating defense. About the time Tiago Splitter finished up his own personal 13-0 run in the fourth, the Knicks started their ascent.

Felton almost had an old-fashioned 3-point play, but missed the free throw and Jason Kidd knocked down a couple of the new-fangled ones. While the Knicks were knocking down shots, the Spurs were giving the ball away. The Spurs turned it over three times and missed 10 shots in a 27-11 run for New York to end the game and give San Antonio its second loss of the season.

“The guys busted their butts. I’m really proud of their effort, but they just didn’t have enough in the tank after that road trip,” Pop said.

Notes:

  • Gary Neal didn’t play because of a cut on the index finger of his shooting hand. He got the cut from his luggage in LA, but was able to play through it against the Lakers. Once the cut scanned over, it made it difficult for him to play through the injury. The team is anticipating he’ll play on Saturday night.
  • Manu Ginobili still hasn’t worked through the combination of injury and rust that’s been plaguing him in this early season. Manu finished with 12 points on 4-8 shooting and four assists, but had three of the team’s 13 turnovers. He’s showing flashes of the Manu brilliance that we’ve come to expect from him, but the team hasn’t been able to lean on him as a playmaker and that’s a big reason the Spurs bench hasn’t been the force it was last season. I was actually more hopeful when Stephen Jackson checked into the game in the fourth quarter than when Manu did, that’s where we’re at this point in the season.
  • As much as his defense helped the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard also had a heck of an offensive night. Leonard had 16 points and eight rebounds against New York and was the team’s biggest threat from the perimeter. Leonard is still inexperienced, but he takes losses harder than most guys I see in the locker room postgame.
  • All in all, not a terrible loss for the Spurs. The Knicks are still undefeated, so San Antonio lost to a very good team. Coming off of a four game road trip where several players had been sick, they were in a good position to lose. I can imagine many are disappointed with blowing a sizable fourth quarter lead, but they get to move on to the next one in two short days.
  • Bruno

    This loss is on Pop and he knows it, not calling the timeout and allowing TP chuck the ball in crunch time were bad decisions. That’s why he is not calling the team out after this big choke.

  • assistman

    I get tired of hearing such things as, “it’s not a bad loss, they (NYK, LAC, whoever) are a very good team.” I’d rather see the odd loss to teams that aren’t a real postseason threat, than to teams at the top with exceptional talent.

  • Graham

    I’m not too worried about this one. We ran into a team that was hotter than we were, plain and simple. Guess i know what it’s like being on the other end of ungodly 3 point shooting now.

    Seriously, take it in stride. 7 and 2 is a damn good record at this stage. Not going to freak out over a tough fought loss. What are we, the Lakers?

  • phillip mabry

    I think the spurs learn more from a loss than a win. I say take the losses now – improve – and get through to the finals. Odd losses to mediocre teams do not teach us as much as a hard fought loss to a tough team. This game should go a long way to us improving. Hopefully….

  • leben

    That game had an almost playoff-like intensity to it. And you can tell the players thought so too. Usually teams don’t shake hands and hug it out until they’re done playing that team for the season. This was just the 1st of 2.

  • leben

    That game had an almost playoff-like intensity to it. And you can tell the players thought so too. Usually teams don’t shake hands and hug it out until they’re done playing that team for the season. This was just the 1st of 2.

  • leben

    That game had an almost playoff-like intensity to it. And you can tell the players thought so too. Usually teams don’t shake hands and hug it out until they’re done playing that team for the season. This was just the 1st of 2.

  • http://twitter.com/blanchard48moh Jesse Blanchard

    Losses happen. The trick is to win more than you lose. At 7-2, I think they’re off to a decent start.

  • Colin

    “That’s why he is not calling the team out after this big choke”

    I guarantee he did in private

  • Tyler

    Interestingly, I was taken aback by how similar both teams are in terms of philosophy – great ball movement, tons of PnR’s (NY really utilizes the corner 3), activity level on defense, etc. From my vantage point, both team really mirrored each other…great game to watch; both teams played well.

    How many times are the Spurs going to lose up 12 with about 7-1/2 minutes to go? Not many…..

  • Andrew G

    Agreed. Pop doesn’t shit on his players to the media regularly, we keep that in-house.

  • Bruno

    He did it last season.

  • JT

    I’m mostly worried about Manu and Blair, also Splitter. While Splitter has a decent game last night, he hasn’t been that great, I wished he was able to create his own shot in the post. Blair is still a mess, I’m glad to see he is developing an outside shot, but overall, he hasn’t impressed. Whats up with Manu, he seems to be needing more and more time to get into the groove of things, lets hope he comes back. Parker hasnt been himself. He hasnt been the MVP Candidate of last year, lets hope he also gets back to the level he was playing at last year.

  • Blofeld

    Sorry, but Manu really blew it last night. They should just sit him until his back is 100%, cause right now he’s clearly doing more harm than good. His bone-headed foul on Chandler? His careless pass right into the hands of Kidd? The list goes on and on… When was the last time Pop actually had to take Manu OUT during crunch time???

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  • ThatBigGuy

    This game boils down to the Knicks executing better than the Spurs down the stretch, which is a very rare occurrence.

    TP is off to a slow start, but you have to trust he’ll pick it back up soon. Manu is clearly struggling and I wonder if he should be sat until he’s a little healthier.

    On the other hand, Tim, Kawhi, Green, and Neal are playing out of their minds. If TP and Manu can shake off their respective doldrums, we’re going to be VERY good.

  • Colin

    You’re saying that just because we the fans didn’t hear about it than it didn’t happen?

  • Colin

    He wasn’t in against the Lakers Tuesday night

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=173600134 Ryan McShane

    I liked DeJuan Blair’s defensive showing against Carmelo, especially when compared to Boris Diaw. He was even able to curtail the offensive rebounds/putbacks that Carmelo is often accustomed to when pitted against SFs not named LeBron (ie, Leonard and Jackson). I think DB could have a niche defensive role as a small-ball 4 defender.

  • Graham

    when was this?

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  • Bruno

    After that Dallas game last season, spurs blew a big lead, and Pop called that team the softiest he ever had.

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