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Knicks Stun Spurs in MSG

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – The New York Knicks were riding a four game losing streak, before facing the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon. New York desperately needed a win against the Spurs, to somehow breathe some hope back into their playoff chances. Beating San Antonio would be quite the task, considering the Spurs had won five of their last six games and held the 2nd seed in a tough Western Conference.

Prior to Sunday, the Knicks were 5-20 against teams with a record of .500 or better. It is safe to say, that not many people expected New York to come out and get a win Sunday. With the way the Knicks got beat Friday night against the Denver Nuggets, a win over the Spurs just didn’t seem possible. Despite all the doubt, New York put together a complete performance and upset the Spurs, 94-90 in Madison Square Garden. Here are two of the biggest reasons the Knicks were able to defeat San Antonio:

1) Offensive Efficiency

  •  The Knicks as a team shot 50% (34 for 68) from the field, and 64% (9 for 14) from downtown. All afternoon, New York did a good job of not forcing the issue, and taking quality shots. The ball movement was there against San Antonio, and helped to create good shot opportunities.
    • New York improved to a 6-2 record, when they shoot over 50% from the field.
    • The Knicks recorded 18 assists, led by Courtney Lee (5 assists).
  • Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks offense with 25 points and seven rebounds. 21 of his 25 points came in the second half.
  • Derrick Rose (18 PTS, 4 REB) has really helped the Knicks with his consistent penetration. Rose creates open perimeter looks for shooters, and is excellent at finishing at the rim. Sometimes Rose gets cheated out of foul calls, because of how hard he launches himself at defenders to finish tough buckets.
(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Hernangomez finishing a tough basket Sunday against the Spurs.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Hernangomez finishing a tough basket Sunday against the Spurs.

  • Willy Hernangomez has infused the Knicks with his energy defensively, and work ethic on the glass. Hernangomez finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, in 29 minutes at the starting Center position for New York. New York will definitely need to keep Hernangomez on the floor, because he has proven to be quite productive for the Knicks.

2) Improvement on the Defensive End

  • New York did a substantially better job defending pick and roll situations, then they have done all season long. The effort level was there, and the defensive intensity was high on the perimeter. New York must have been preaching active hands, because the Knicks seemed to be in a lot of passing lanes Sunday afternoon.
  • The Knicks held the Spurs to just 36% (33 for 91) shooting from the field, and just 20% (6 for 29) from downtown. The help defense was there all afternoon, as finally we saw the Knicks’ help rotations were more crisp. This may have been the first time all year long, that we saw the entire Knick team on the same page defensively.
    • The Knicks have now improved to a 8-1 record when they hold opponents to under 100 points.
  • It is no coincidence, that getting Lance Thomas back improved the Knicks defensively. Thomas is a professional, and his effort defensively inspires other teammates to do the same.
(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Leonard torched the Knicks for 36 points Sunday afternoon.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Leonard torched the Knicks for 36 points Sunday afternoon.

  • Kawhi Leonard (36 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST, 4 STL) had a huge game for San Antonio, but New York did a great job of taking away the Spurs’ other options.
    • Only LaMarcus Aldridge (15 PTS, 10 REB) and David Lee (10 PTS, 7 REB) scored in double figures for the Spurs besides Leonard.
      • – Leonard (13 for 27 FG)  – Rest of Team (20 for 64 FG)

This win is a huge step in the right direction for New York, and proved that the Knicks can compete with any team in the NBA. It is up to those players in the locker room, to bring the same level of intensity, hunger and pride EVERY NIGHT. New York improved to 23-33 on the season, and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder (31-24) Wednesday night.

Final Thought:

  • The Knicks turned the ball over 20 times. San Antonio converted for 21 points off of those turnovers. If New York is going to seriously make a push for the playoffs, they MUST take care of the basketball.

Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for PureSportsNY.com. Follow him on Twitter @BHO732

(Featured Photo Credit: Barry Holmes)

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