If you had to read the above headline twice, or perhaps had to blink a couple times to make sure you saw it clearly, that is quite alright. All you need to know is that it’s true: the Knicks defeated the Spurs at home last night.
Though the Spurs (who came into the game at an NBA-best 29-4) were paced by 20 first half points by Tony Parker, Wilson Chandler heated up enough early as well for the Knicks, scoring 16 first-half points to help his team take a 72-69 lead into halftime.
While the game remained close throughout, the Knicks always seemed to be one step ahead of the Spurs during the high octane offensive match up.
The Spurs have had one of the slower and steadier offenses the league has seen in recent years, but have climbed back to the top of the NBA with a more up tempo style this season. That being said, the Knicks seemed ready to match just about the Spurs’ every move.
Usually known for their three-point shooting, the Knicks shot under 30% from behind the arc for only the third team this season. Luckily for them, however, the team’s shooting percentage from inside was right on point.
Playing without Danilo Gallinari for the first time during a two to three week stretch of which he will be nursing a knee injury, the Knicks received increased offense from Chandler, who finished with a season-high 31 points, and Raymond Felton, who scored 28 points while dishing out 7 assists.
While Ronny Turiaf actually started in place of Gallinari, the Knicks received boosts off the bench from Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas, who each poured in 9 points. Bill Walker, whose minutes were also increased, added 6 points.
As usual, Amar’e Stoudemire came alive later in the game to help seal the victory for the Knicks, finishing with 28 points of his own.
Though the Knicks’ pace seemed steady enough for them to eventually win the game, it wasn’t until Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich removed his starters from the game and emptied his bench with over three minutes left in the game, that the game was decided. The Knicks held a ten point lead at that point, which may not have been insurmountable against the league’s best team.
That being said, the future Hall of Fame coach explained that he felt as though his team’s defense was simply not playing hard enough to defeat the Knicks last night.
What does beating the NBA’s best team mean for the Knicks? For one thing, it means getting to 20 wins the fastest way in years.
Furthermore, the Knicks are officially no longer a league doormat or a joke, but a force to be reckoned with. If they can play strong enough to beat the Spurs (with authority, even), they have enough potential to beat anyone in the league. The key to success is going to be playing that hard throughout every game this season, which may be difficult without Gallinari for a max of three weeks.
Nevertheless, the Knicks showed no signs of slowing down without him last night.
The final score was the Knicks’ 128 over the Spurs’ 115.