The New York Knicks defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 100-83, Thursday night, snapping the Spurs' seven-game winning streak and perhaps ending their own skid in which they had lost five of their past eight contests.
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 23 points, and the Knicks also received a great lift off the bench from an unlikely source in Pablo Prigioni.
This was a very good win for New York.
Overall Game Grade: C
Thanks to Pablo Prigioni, Jason Kidd took a backseat Thursday night. Kidd had five points and three assists in 21 minutes, never truly making his imprint on the game. He had some issues defending Tony Parker early on as well. His defense improved in the third quarter, though. This was a rather bland game for the future Hall of Famer.
Kidd did not play in the fourth quarter.
Kidd hit one bucket early on in the period, but then Prigioni entered the game and Kidd didn't return until there were 12 seconds left in the quarter. His defense against Parker looked much better, so that's good.
Sensing that Kidd was having a bit of a problem defending Parker, Mike Woodson switched him off of the San Antonio guard in the second quarter. However, Kidd was still unable to get into any kind of rhythm, failing to tally an assist and being harassed by Patty Mills for most of the period. This was somewhat of an inauspicious half for Kidd.
Kidd had some trouble with Tony Parker in the first period, as the Spurs' point guard went 3-of-4 from the floor against the veteran and lost him off of screens a couple of times. Kidd did come up with a steal and knocked down a three in nine minutes of action. His somewhat shoddy defense on Parker drags down his overall grade, though.
Overall Game Grade: B-
Ronnie Brewer scored six points in this one, hitting a couple of threes in 16 minutes of play. He played solid defense in the first quarter to help keep San Antonio from getting it going offensively early on. Basically, he knew his role, and for the most part, he stuck to it.
Brewer did not play in the fourth quarter.
Brewer played a bit at the start of the period, but didn't see much action for the rest of it. During that limited time, he knocked down a three. He didn't really do much else.
Brewer didn't have much of an impact at all in the second quarter. He played about six minutes, but you hardly felt his presence on the floor. The Spurs also got way too many open looks for me to credit Brewer's defense.
Decent first quarter for Brewer. He knocked down a three and played effective D. He did leave Danny Green wide open for two three-point attempts, but fortunately for Brewer and the Knicks, he only connected on one of them. After the second trifecta try by Green, Brewer buckled down defensively.
Overall Game Grade: B
Carmelo Anthony wasn't particularly great in this one, shooting 9-of-20 from the floor and never getting into any kind of rhythm. Credit the Spurs' defense for that, though, as they brought a considerable amount of double-teams and played physical D on Anthony to try to take him out of the game. 'Melo grinded it out, though, finishing with 23 points and eight boards. It may not have been 45 points, but it was more than enough.
Due to the fact that the Knicks built up a big lead, Anthony was able to go to the bench four and a half minutes into the fourth quarter and sit the rest of the way. He knocked down a couple of jumpers in the limited time he played during the period.
Throughout the first three quarters, the Spurs seemed to make a concerted effort to take Anthony out of the game, and it worked. 'Melo appeared very frustrated during the third quarter, as he was unable to get off many good shots and turned to the refs asking for foul calls in the process. As the period was drawing to a close, however, he was able to get a couple of easy buckets.
The second period wasn't as kind to Anthony as the first. The star forward went 2-of-6 from the floor and was a little careless with the basketball. He wasn't very aggressive at all during the frame, settling for jumpers instead of putting the ball on the floor and trying to get to the rim. In his defense, he was doubled a couple of times. Not a great half for No. 7.
Anthony had a somewhat sloppy first few minutes, throwing a couple of errant passes. He quickly rebounded, though, burying a pair of three-pointers and drawing some contact for some free throws. Carmelo put in nine first-quarter points. We're so used to him having double-digit-point quarters that we may neglect the fact that nine points in a period is pretty darn good.
Overall Game Grade: B
Marcus Camby got the start to counter San Antonio's size Thursday night, and it paid off. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were virtual non-factors for the Spurs on the offensive end, and Camby had a lot to do with that. He also played some nice help defense and pulled down six rebounds in 15 minutes of play. Nice game from Camby.
Camby did not play in the fourth quarter.
Camby played some excellent help defense in this quarter, including swatting a Duncan layup attempt. He has very little of a role offensively, but the Knicks don't need him for that. They just need him to play D and rebound, and he did a very nice job on the boards during the period.
The best moment of the quarter for Camby was when he made a beautiful backdoor pass to 'Melo for a jam. He also hit a tough contested shot around the basket. That being said, it's clear that Camby just doesn't have the same lift he once did, and his presence on the glass suffers because of it.
It was a rather uneventful first quarter for Camby. He didn't attempt a shot and pulled down one rebound. He did provide some solid interior defense alongside Chandler, though, and he didn't do anything detrimental to the team.
Overall Game Grade: A
It's hard not to love the way Tyson Chandler played against the Spurs. He scored 10 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, and most importantly, he locked down Tim Duncan defensively, keeping him out of the paint and holding him to 11 points off of jump shots. Chandler's defense also made it very difficult for guys like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to get dribble penetration. Great game from Chandler.
Duncan didn't play at all in the fourth, so Chandler's job during the period was that much easier. He had a big three-point play early in the quarter that put the Knicks up double digits, and the team never looked back from that point. He collected four more rebounds in about six minutes of action.
Chandler hit the 10-rebound mark in the third, and he still kept Duncan out of the paint. Almost all of Duncan's shot attempts during this game were jumpers, and that is in no small part due to Tyson's excellent defense.
Once again, Chandler did a magnificent job defending Duncan, stripping him a couple of times and never allowing him to get himself set in the post. New York's center played very physical defense on Duncan the entire half and it worked, as the Big Fundamental made only two field goals over the first two quarters, both of them being jump shots.
Chandler got off to a very impressive start in this one, playing some strong defense on Duncan and doing a great job on the glass, hauling in six boards. He clearly had an impact on the game early, forcing the Spurs to take almost nothing but perimeter jumpers in the first period.
Overall Game Grade: B+
J.R. Smith didn't have a very productive first half, committing some silly fouls and looking a bit out of his element offensively. That all changed over the final two periods, particularly in the fourth, where he scored 10 points off 5-of-6 shooting. Smith also played some tremendous defense on Manu Ginobili, taking the Spurs' guard out of the game at points. Smith finished 9-of-17 from the floor and 1-of-6 from distance.
Smith got on a roll in the fourth quarter, hitting his first four shots of the frame, and then he threw down a ridiculous reverse-slam alley-oop off a perfect pass from Pablo Prigioni. After a rather slow start in this one, Smith exploded in the final frame.
Much better third quarter for Smith. He converted a three-point play and displayed some dazzling ball-handling, particularly in one instance where he crossed over Ginobili and made a gorgeous backdoor pass to Prigioni for an easy two. He also played some fine defense on Manu down at the other end of the floor. Smith only hit on two of his five shot attempts, but he brought more positive energy than he did in the first 24 minutes.
Smith picked up his second foul very early in the period and returned with about five and a half minutes to go. Right after reentering, he knocked down a three. That was pretty much it. He once again went 1-of-3 from the floor. Smith came into this one averaging 25 points per game over his last six. He had five at the half.
He made an incredible block on a fast break, but other than that, it was a rather underwhelming first period for Smith. He went 1-of-3 from the floor and missed his two free-throw attempts. Smith also picked up a silly foul late in the quarter. Especially given how well he has played of late, this was a mediocre start.
Overall Game Grade: A
The Knicks' bench was outstanding Thursday night. Pablo Prigioni dished out nine assists, some of them dazzling, and also chipped in with six points and three steals. He truly was the most consistent player on New York in this one, making his presence felt on both ends of the floor. Steve Novak also had a great game, drilling five threes, three of them coming in the fourth quarter. Perhaps most importantly, Amar'e Stoudemire showed signs of life. Although he had four shots blocked, he looked strong in the paint, scoring 10 points and earning himself four free throws.
Novak hit three more threes and Prigioni continued to make a huge impact, throwing some incredible passes and playing some more great D. Stoudemire continued to try to get himself going, and the good news is that his legs do look strong out there.
Another great quarter for Prigioni. He played some more tenacious defense, and while he wasn't scoring the basketball, he did a great job handling the offense. Through three quarters, his impact was much greater than that of Kidd's. Also, Stoudemire is starting to get into the flow of things little by little. If only some of those shots that keep rimming out for him would stay down.
The Knicks' bench did a very nice job during the second period, with Chris Copeland providing some solid energy off the pine and Prigioni doing a very admirable job handling point-guard duties (how about five first-half assists for the Argentinian). Novak did his usual thing by canning a couple of threes, and Amar'e was able to hit his second shot of the night. What stuck out the most was Copeland's defense on Parker. The rookie did an incredible job limiting the Spurs' floor general, using his length to force him into some tough shots.
Stoudemire came into this game and hit his first field-goal attempt, but he looked very discombobulated after that, making sloppy post moves and having trouble handling the basketball. Prigioni was able to come in and play some feisty defense and throw a beautifully placed lob to Chandler for an alley-oop dunk.
Great job by Mike Woodson in this one.
His decision to start Marcus Camby proved to be a good one, as the Spurs struggled to score in the paint all night. He also did a great job managing his players' minutes, going with hot hands like Pablo Prigioni and Steve Novak when appropriate and providing enough rest for his stars in the process.
The Knicks' excellent defensive effort against the league's best offensive team was greatly due to Woodson's game plan. Great night for the Bobby Knight protege.
The Knicks came into this game against a red-hot Spurs team and put the pedal to the metal with a 17-point win. How can you not give them an "A"?
New York's defense was tremendous all night, allowing only 12 points in the paint. The Knicks also out-rebounded their opponent for a change, coming out with a 48-35 edge on the glass.
Essentially, everyone who got minutes contributed in this one, with five players scoring in double figures. That is what you call balance.
The Knicks also won convincingly without a dominant performance from Carmelo Anthony. Impressive.