Thursday, January 2, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Knicks 105, Spurs 101
By Ian Begley
Happy New Year, Knicks fans.
The struggling Knicks played their best game of the season in San Antonio on Thursday, making several clutch plays in the final minutes to walk off the floor with a 105-101 win.
Carmelo Anthony played extremely well in his first game back following a three-game absence with an ankle injury, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
But Thursday's game belonged to Iman Shumpert, who shook off a season-long shooting slump to score a career-high 27 points on just 13 shots.
The Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 10-21. They are tied with the Celtics for fourth place in the awful Atlantic Division. But at least they're undefeated in 2014. And they beat one of the best teams in the NBA to start the calendar year.
Shump lives! Shumpert entered play shooting 36 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the arc, mired in the worst shooting slump of his three-year career.
But he broke out in a big way on Thursday.
Shumpert set a career high in points and hit 10 of 13 from the field. He also hit the two biggest shots of the night for the Knicks. Shumpert knocked down a 3 with 39 seconds to go to give New York a three-point lead. San Antonio's Marco Belinelli tied it with a 3 of his own on the Spurs' next possession. But Shumpert answered yet again, tipping in Anthony's miss to give New York a two-point lead it would hold on to.
Carmelo's back: Anthony took the floor for the first time in three games and made his presence felt immediately. Anthony shot 50 percent from the field (10-for-20) and added 12 rebounds and four assists.
This is not exactly breaking news, but the Knicks are a different team when Anthony's on the court. They were outscored by 18 points per game in the three games that he missed. But the Knicks outscored San Antonio by 10 in Anthony's 39 minutes for their first win against a Western Conference team this season.
Can't defend the 3: The Knicks need to tighten up their perimeter defense if they want to climb out of the hole they've established.
New York allowed San Antonio to hit 14 of its 32 3-point attempts. The Spurs hit 9 of 17 attempts in the first half.
Belinelli hit 6 of 9 3-pointers and Matt Bonner hit 3 of his 5 3-point attempts. Toure' Murry was one Knick who defended well on the perimeter. He was the lone bench player to have a neutral plus/minus on Thursday. The Knicks were outscored when all other bench players were on the floor.
What's next: The Knicks take on Jeremy Lin and the Rockets on Friday.