Knicks Make A Huge Statement With Win Over Spurs

Published on: 5th January, 2011

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tim-duncan
Knicks Make A Huge Statement With Win Over Spurs  | read this item

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New York – If there was a doubt whether the New York Knickerbockers deserved to be mentioned in any conversation about the NBA’s elite teams, tonight’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs may have dispelled it. 

In a Knicks season filled with statement victories as well as some recent reality checks in losses to Miami (twice), Boston, and Orlando, tonight’s win was perhaps, the most important one, so far. It came against the best team in the league, if one goes by won-lost records and, a team that allows only 96 points per game.

But, the Knicks offense was in high gear tonight. The New Yorkers rode Wilson Chandler’s season-high 31 points, nine rebounds, and four assists along with Amar’e Stoudemire’s 28 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots en route to a 128-115 win over a team that came in with that sterling 29-4 record. Make that 29-5, now. 

It was a a high-scoring, fast-paced game throughout, with both teams going up and down the court, seemingly getting off shots without a whole lot of defensive resistance. But, it was also very close from beginning to end, with the Knicks never holding more than a 10-point lead until there was 1:12 left in the third quarter.

It wasn’t until the fourth and final period that the Knicks were able to put the pedal to the metal and race out to another double-digit lead, when with just 3:27 remaining in the game rookie Landry Fields pulled down an offensive rebound off of a Raymond Felton (28 points, seven assists, four rebounds) miss, and fed Stoudemire going to the hoop for a layup to make it, 122-111. The Garden crowd exploded, the electricity in the building feeling very much like the days when Patrick Ewing  and his gang rocked the house. Tonight’s crowd noise appeared louder than usual because of the caliber of the team they were playing and because of the way the home team dictated the pace of the game.

Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich was duly impressed with the Knicks, and spoke bluntly afterwards.

“The Knicks kicked our asses tonight,” said Popovich. “They were more aggressive, more physical tonight, and they were hungrier than we were and it showed in a lot of ways. Turnovers, second chance points, that kind of thing. If we score 115 points, I expect to win the game. Our defense was pathetic.”

It’s been a long time since an opposing coach has evaluated the New York franchise as hungrier and more physical. It shows the respect Mike D’Antoni’s team is beginning to garner around the league.

“They are a very good basketball team,” Popovich continued. “They are not a dangerous team, they are a good team and there is a difference. They are solid, they are playing their roles, they are playing together, they are communicating and the physicality was impressive.”

Even the Knicks defense was impressive to Popovich.

“The way they chase screens and get up and down the court, they did a good job,” he said. “I am happy for Mike (D’Antoni), he had to go through some tough stuff, but they obviously turned the corner and it is wonderful for him, the players, and the organization.”

D’Antoni was less impressed with the Knicks’ defense but happy to get the win.

“It just reminded me of the defensive struggles we had when it was San Antonio-Phoenix,” D’Antoni said with tongue firmly in cheek. “But we played well and they played well. They were moving the ball extremely well. I thought it was a great game. Not many turnovers. We both would like to stop each other more but it didn’t happen.”

The Knicks were missing Danilo Gallinari tonight, who will be out with a sprained knee for the next two or three weeks. This, of course begs the question, were the Knicks missing Gallinari’s defense more than his outside shooting tonight?

All jokes aside, after the Spurs had shot in the 60% range for the first three quarters of the game, the Knicks buckled down in the final quarter and held them to just 46% from the field, holding them to just 20 points in the stanza while the home team hit at a 50% clip. And, therein lied the victory for the Knicks.

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