New York Knicks 100, San Antonio Spurs 83: Inefficient nights

by

Holders of the league’s longest active winning streak at seven games in a row thanks to a couple of losses by the Los Angeles Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs went into Madison Square Garden looking to sweep their latest four-games-in-five-nights stretch.

Instead, the Spurs lost to the New York Knicks 100-83 on Thursday night in a strange game. Both teams are in the top-5 of offensive efficiency, and yet viewers who weren’t watching the Fiesta Bowl were treated to a offensive strugglefest that had no discernable rhythm or open play.

Interestingly, the Knicks started Marcus Camby alongside All-World defensive anchor Tyson Chandler. The move gave the Knicks about 15-feet of wingspan with which to deflect passes, cut off penetration and harass shooters. The Spurs struggled mightily with the change, scoring only 12 points in paint against New York and getting outrebounded 48-35.

San Antonio also shot 9-of-34 (26.5 percent) from the 3-point line. So when you take no points in the paint and combine that with poor shooting from the perimeter, what do you get? That’s right, terrible efficiency. The Spurs had an offensive rating of 89.0 befitting their offensive performance.

Credit goes to the Knicks, though. In the first quarter, New York seemed well-prepared for the Spurs. Knicks guards were jumping passing lanes that the Spurs had relied upon all season, like when Jason Kidd picked off Tim Duncan’s pass from the top of the key, where Duncan was looking to find Danny Green cutting baseline for a layup, a situation the Spurs had scored on numerous times this season.

J.R. Smith did the same, overplaying on one play where one of the Spurs guards set a pin-down screen for Duncan on the low block and Duncan flashed up near the elbow. Smith read the play coming and almost stole the pass, but somehow Boris Diaw was able to sneak the ball by Smith.

Considering how things were going in this game, it was a wonder the Spurs were even in it for as long as they were. San Antonio went into the fourth quarter down just seven points, but the Knicks started out the fourth on an 8-0 run and went on to hit their first eight fields goals. By that time, New York had amassed a 20-point lead and the game was effectively over.

Playing the Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back and for the fourth game in five nights, the silver and black were obviously fatigued. The offense wasn’t as crisp (though some of that was thanks to the Knicks), the defensive rotations were slow and the mental mistakes weren’t exactly under the cover of darkness. There’s a good chance that Gregg Popovich and his staff looked at this game back when they first got a copy of the schedule and chalked this up as a schedule loss.

They would never say that publicly, mind you, but the thought had to have crossed their minds. Luckily for the Spurs, there’s no back-to-backs in the playoffs and there’s sure as hell no four-in-five-nights stretches. No, the playoffs take two months and there will be plenty of time to rest their legs as the postseason unfolds. The Spurs just have to make sure they’re in good shape by the time they get there.

Some other notes from the Spurs’ loss to the Knicks:

  • Stephen Jackson sprained his ankle in one of the weirder plays you’ll ever see. After shooting a 3, that on this night was a sure miss, Jackson stepped back and twisted his ankle on a waitress who was serving New York mayor Michael Bloomberg courtside. Only in New York or LA does a sentence like that one get typed.
  • I thought Gary Neal was particularly poor in this game. Neal shot 3-of-11 from the field and was credited with two turnovers, but his performance had the feel of one much worse. One of his turnovers came from recovering a loose ball and falling out of bounds with no one in his vicinity. It was just strange. He also hesitated on his shot at random times. He just seemed… off. Perhaps the adrenaline wore off from his first game back against the Bucks, and what was left is a player who needed to shake off some rust.
  • Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire was working off some rust of his own, having played his first game of the season in New York’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, but Tiago Splitter didn’t help much. Splitter only had three blocked shots on the box score, but it felt like he had something close to seven. He owned Stoudemire down low. I thought Splitter got shafted on at least a couple of his three personal fouls.
  • J.R. Smith. Damn.

Advanced stats courtesy of NBA.com/Stats

  • Andrew G

    I know it’s an easy cop-out, but when we get called for three travels and New freaking York gets 0, home court advantage is in full swing. I’ll ignore the fact that Melo is looking for a foul on every single shot he takes during a game, but Stoudemire would take 5 steps in the paint reshuffling his feet while Tiago was defending him. Saying Tiago got shafted was an understatement at best.

  • Andrew G

    And on an unrelated note, that JR Smith dunk was so nasty that De Colo (the one guarding Smith) got demoted to the D-League. He’ll be in Austin for tonight’s game. The minor details are on the Toros’ website.

  • Fred

    Bonner goes 0 for 5. Are the playoffs here already? Or was he just fatigued from riding the pine?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Where’s the justification for that Pop? If your going to do that then send Gary Neal to the D-League so he can learn himself some ball handlin and dribblin skills. GHEEESH!

  • Titletown99030507d

    Ginobili 2-10, Green 3-8, Bonner 0-6, Parker 5-11, Splitter 1-4(good defensive game though) and Duncan (gassed!) add the fact Gary Neal can’t handle the ball worth a crap! = Loss! I’d rather have Mills in before that turnover magnet he even plays better defense than Neal.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The Psychology of basketball according to Pop.

  • Bob

    “Luckily for the Spurs, there’s no
    back-to-backs in the playoffs and there’s sure as hell no
    four-in-five-nights stretches. No, the playoffs take two months and
    there will be plenty of time to rest their legs as the postseason
    unfolds. The Spurs just have to make sure they’re in good shape by the
    time they get there.”

    That’s the same thing we’ve been saying for a couple of season but it seems like the Spurs still don’t have enough gas in the tank in the playoffs. It’s felt that way the past couple of seasons.

    They don’t play every night in the playoffs but they might play every other night and the minutes are more intense than regular season minutes. It’s possible the intensity of one playoff game being equivalent to playing a back-to-back in the regular season.

  • Graham

    Actually letting Nando log huge minutes for the Toros will help him get a feel for the system, a lot more than spot minutes with the team.

    As for Neal, he may be a bit rusty. Still it’s part of the package. Do you remember that 3 he hit to spark our comeback run before the Half? Sometimes he’s feelin it and hits a miracle 3 off a wacky Chris Paul turnover, and sometimes he’ll fall out of bounds and turn the ball over.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Exactly! Pop should spell Timmy sooner and give Tiago 30 minutes from here on out. It save Timmy’s legs and it would be beneficial for the screen and roll master.

  • lvmainman

    Does anyone believe that Ginobili only had 2 turnovers vs. the Knicks?
    Against good teams, I can count on 2 things from Neal. A layup getting blocked and getting pilfered in the backcourt as the point guard.

  • NYC

    F*&#%$KING BLOOMBERG. As if I needed one more reason to hate you.

  • Pingback: Spurs vs. 76ers Give and Go Preview | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • Titletown99030507d

    I know he’s on when he’s on when it comes to his 3’s, but like Ivmainman said he just gets blocked too many times going up for a lay up against the better teams. He should look back maybe Tiago will be there waiting for him. Like Neals 3’s but Mills can shoot it just as well and is a pest on defense. But I still can’t understand why he can’t get a handle on the ball. Sometimes he just looks like he’s wrestling with the ball then someone comes along and picks his pocket. Oh well maybe he is rusty but he should never bring it up court. He should just do what he does best shoot it like it’s 2099.

  • Pingback: Pregaming: Spurs vs. 76ers | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • JAWS#3

    LOL!

  • Pingback: Splitter's absence leaves major void