Originally written January 03, 2013 on Project Spurs:
Thursday was the San Antonio Spurs’ fifth game in seven nights. Here’s how the Spurs’ shooting percentage looked: 28-of-77 attempted shots (36%). 9-of-34 attempted 3-pointers (27%). The result of what could have been tired legs, a New York Knicks 100-83 victory that erupted one minute into the fourth quarter. Credit has to be given to the Knicks’ defense as well as they held the Spurs’ offense to just 12 points in the paint and limited the Spurs to 14 assists on the night. The highest scoring quarter of the night was the fourth quarter where the Spurs were still outscored 33-23. A mixture of missed open shots and the paint being closed off by Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby might have led to the 17-point loss on Thursday. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 23 points, J.R. Smith added 20 points off the bench as well, but it was former Spur Steve Novak who delivered the daggers in the fourth quarter as he scored 15 points in just 22 minutes off the bench, all 3-pointers. Gary Neal led the Spurs with 12 points on 11 attempted shots, while Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each provided San Antonio with 11 points apiece, while Duncan grabbed six rebounds and Parker tallied six assists. But it was a night when the two main scoring threats for San Antonio didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ loss to the Knicks that looked manageable for three quarters, but then turned into a blowout early in the fourth. First quarter: Spurs 22, Knicks 19 Just hang in there – Being the second night of the back-to-back, the Spurs did hang in with the Knicks as their shots and passing just weren’t in sync as it could be. The Spurs only connected on 8-of-18 shots from the floor, while turning the ball over four times in the quarter. Splitter’s defense – Though it was Amar’e Stoudamire’s (10 points) second game back this season, Tiago Splitter defended Stoudamire in the paint exceptionally well as he limited Stoudamire in the post and accumulated three blocks. Second quarter: Spurs 40, Knicks 42 Defense keeps Spurs afloat until half – Though the offense wasn’t spectacular in the second quarter (21 points), the Spurs’ defense was as the team held the “rested” Knicks to just 20 points in the second. The Knicks did build a nine-point lead at one time early in the second, but the Spurs’ effort in clamping down on defense and grinding the quarter out helped them go into the half down two points.   Tired legs or just missed shots? – There’s no measurable way to tell if the Spurs just missed shots or if their legs were tired in the first half as they missed some open 3-pointers to go into the half shooting 5-of-18 (28%) from the outside. Jackson sprains ankle – Midway through the first quarter, Stephen Jackson sprained his ankle as he shot a corner 3-pointer and fell into the crowd behind him. Reports stated that he sprained his ankle by falling on a sideline waitress and in the second quarter the confirmation came that he would not return to the game with a sprained ankle. Third quarter: Spurs 60, Knicks 67 Staying within 10 points – The third quarter wasn’t pretty for the Spurs as the Knicks outscored them 25-20, but a late run to end the quarter helped the Spurs cut a one time 11-point deficit down to seven points going into the final quarter. After three, the Spurs were shooting 36% from the field and had only made 7-of-24 three pointers. Fourth quarter: Spurs 83, Knicks 100 1:30 minute blowout – The game was essentially over within the first 1:30 of the fourth quarter as the Knicks started the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run behind the shooting of Smith and Novak. The Spurs would get outscored 33-23 in the final quarter but Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich never brought Parker and Duncan back in the fourth quarter since the team fell behind 17 points, and the lead got as high as 23 points. Nando shines in garbage time – One of the only bright spots of the night for the Spurs was rookie Nando De Colo who scored nine points in 9:15 minutes as he connected on all four of his attempted field goals and he even made one three pointer. Back home to host Philly – With the loss, the Spurs’ one night of being tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA is over as the team falls to 26-9 on the season and back to third place in the West. The Spurs’ 7-game winning streak was snapped as well. The Spurs will have off Friday and will be back in the AT&T Center to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. 
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