Season 51, Game 38
San Antonio 100, New York 91
26-12, 3rd in the West
There were a lot of reasons to breathe a sigh of relief after this one.
After a dismal night against Detroit on Saturday, the Spurs showed signs of life and bounced back in New York, earning their fourth win in five games.
Six nights ago in Texas, the Spurs beat the Knicks handily behind a 25-point effort by LaMarcus Aldridge for a 119-107 win. Kyle Anderson subbed in for Kawhi Leonard during that game, but the Klaw was back in last night’s lineup. Given re-incorporation pains with Kawhi in previous games, tonight’s outcome was far from guaranteed.
From the outset, Aldridge and Leonard dominated and morphed into the dynamic duo San Antonio fans have been waiting to see all season. Aldridge stuffed his overflowing stat sheet with 29 points and 6 rebounds while geling with Leonard, who in his 7th game back from a quad injury recorded season highs in points (25), rebounds (8), steals (4) and minutes (31).
Through numerous tweaks to the rotation, the pair played well with others, forced fouls, and kept energy high. The Spurs went to the line 34 times scoring 28 points, more than doubling the Knicks effort with 14 points off 18 attempts.
Gone was the lackadaisical play seen against the Pistons. A balanced attack included 11 points from Pau Gasol, 12 from Manu Ginobili, and 10 from the other Latvian on the floor not named Porzingis – Davis Bertans.
Perhaps the result of last night’s super moon, some interesting plays occurred…
Late in the first quarter, a shot by Michael Beasley rimmed round and round and round and round and round before finally going in.
This would not be the weirdest thing to happen at the hoop.
At the end of the third quarter, Ginobili nailed such a lightning quick shot it was invisible to everyone, including the officials.
An intended alley-oop to Aldridge whizzed into the net, but Michael Beasley kept it in play as a deflection and brought it down the court. Ginobili argued at the other end and officials struggled to find a reason to review the play. They used the trigger of determining whether it was a two or three pointer to award the points.
Seriously, Manu is magical.
Watching this game in New York meant a local feed with commentators Walt Frazier and Mike Breen – Knicks-oriented this broadcast was not. Someone should remind them who writes their paychecks. These two praised the Spurs non-stop while sharing several stories about Ginobili, Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, and even coaches Becky Hammon and Ettore Messina.
We also saw a beaming Ginobili greeting fans who’d arrived en masse from Argentina, fearing this season may be his farewell tour.
With win number 1,176, Gregg Popovich passed his friend George Karl, and is now the fifth winningest coach in NBA history. Not that we are keeping track, but after win 1,211 he will pass Pat Riley.
Kudos to Coach Jeff Hornacek for molding a young Knicks team that plays spunky and with heart now that the Curse of Carmelo has been lifted from NYC. Michael Beasley is a lot of fun to watch. All they have to do is get one win to be back at .500 and for the first time in over a decade I’m cheering for them to do it.
Here’s hoping Leonard, should he be kept off the DL, and Aldridge rekindle tonight’s spark in their back to back against Philly tonight.