The New York Knicks outscored the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night, 128-115, despite the absence of starting Small Forward Danilo Gallinari. It was the worst loss of the season for the Spurs, who still hold the best record in the NBA at 29-5.
Just two days after losing Danilo Gallinari for up to 3 weeks to an injury he suffered in a victory over the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks found themselves facing off against the team with the best record in the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs came into Tuesday nights’ game on a 5-game winning streak, also having won 14 out of their last 15 games. The Knicks came into the match having lost 5 of their last 8, including a terrible lose to the awful Cleveland Cavaliers.
This seemed like such a laughable miss-match that most analysts scoffed at the notion from Knicks’ fans that this should be a nationally televised game. I mean who wanted to see the Spurs run all over the Knicks? The Spurs had held their last four opponents under 100 points, including the Thunder, Lakers and Mavericks, all perceived as far superior teams to the New York Knicks. To top it off, the Knicks were without one of their starters. Surely this was going to be a blow out in San Antonio’s favor right?
Tuesday night the Knicks proved everyone wrong. The sports analysts, the columnists, the Spurs fans and even the statistics that all pointed to a Spurs rout of the lowly Knicks. Even without Gallinari’s 15.3 points per game, the club from NYC managed to match San Antonio stat line for stat line.
The Spurs finished with 44 field goals made, 22 made free throws, 5 three pointers, 37 rebounds, 18 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks, 16 turn overs and 115 points tallied. The Knicks ended the night with 50 field goals, 20 free throws, 8 three pointers, 38 rebounds, 26 assists, 9 steals, 4 blocks, 6 turn overs and 128 points. Amazing totals considering how bad the Knicks had been playing leading up to this game and how good the Spurs have been.
For only the 5th time this season, the New York Knicks outscored an opponent by at least 10 points. San Antonio has 15 games where they’ve outscored their opponent by 10 points or more, and it’s only the 2nd time the Spurs have lost by more then 10 points. The Knicks out rebounded their opponent for only the 12th time this season. I know I can’t believe they won either but I’m loving it!
The usual suspects were the bright spots for the Knicks, with Raymond Felton again winning the position battle against an elite point guard. Felton finished the night with 28 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. The emerging All-Star (get out there and vote!) has now played well against every single elite point guard in the NBA not named Nash/Williams, both of whom he has yet to face.
Wilson Chandler once again showed why he’s both a blessing and a curse for New York. A talented forward that’s worth keeping but who’s new contract (it expires this season) will alter the Knicks cap room and thus alter their lofty free agency plans. Chandler scored 31 points on the night, his 12th game with 20 or more points scored. He’s now averaging 17.9 points per game, on 48% shooting, 38% from beyond the arc, to go along with his 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Amar’e Stoudemire continues to play like an MVP, going for 28 points, 3 blocks, 6 assists and 9 rebounds. STAT has scored at least 20 points in 27 out of the 34 games he’s played so far this season. The last time he didn’t score at least 20 was back on November 23rd against the Charlotte Bobcats. He has been an absolute dream for Knicks fans everywhere.
Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Landry Fields chipped in 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals, proving once again that he’s a player to watch and further proof that the Knicks actually can draft well. Hope the Knicks don’t trade this kid away in a potential Steve Nash deal.
The Knicks’ starters logged too many minutes once again, something that must change if the team intends to survive the tough schedule ahead, without burning out STAT, Felton or Chandler. Eight of their next fourteen opponents have winning records, seven of which have at least 23 wins.
First up is a tough four game road trip, in which I predict they’ll come back 2-2 from. They’ll face the Phoenix Suns, LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz. Only the Suns have a losing record and Portland is only one game over 500. Those two games against the Suns and Blazers are the games the Knicks should win, though if their starters are too warn out during the fourth quarter to compete (a regular occurrence of late) then the Knicks might be facing the Sacramento Kings on January 14th with a 4 game losing streak on their heels.