It’s my fault. At the end of my recap of the Lakers game, I clearly jinxed this game. I said I couldn’t wait for the Spurs to crush the Knicks and end all of this “The Knicks are back!” talk. There’s one important thing you have to remember here: I’m an idiot. Don’t ever underestimate my ability to make an idiotic prognostication and jinx our team.
Aside from my jinx, the Spurs pretty much sucked their way through this game. The team looked listless for much of the game and Pop called them out for “running out of gas” in the postgame. I was surprised – I was expecting really angry Pop in the postgame and he didn’t seem that upset about the loss.
Song of the Game: The Beatles, “Helter Skelter”
Call this a first. I’m not a Beatles fan and I don’t think I’ve ever used them in a Song of the Game before, but this is the the song my brain produced when I thought about this game. The whole game, aside from some spots in the late 3rd and early 4th quarter, felt like a game at the Y between two teams who had just divided up teams for pickup. It was a frenetic pace, especially in the first half, when Pop was urging his team to calm down.
Play(s) of the Game: 4th Quarter 3s
The difference in this game was two sets of back-to-back triples in the 4th quarter. The first set was all Jason Kidd, which took a 10-point Spurs lead down to 4. The second set was the deadly J.R. Smith-Kidd combo, which took a 1-point Spurs lead to a 5-point deficit.
Why are these the plays of the game? Because they were open shots. The Spurs were trying to help inside on Melo and trying to keep Ray Felton out of the paint, but it is a huge defensive lapse to leave Kidd alone on the 3-point line. The Spurs’ reserves built an 11-point lead in the early 4th and the starting defensive unit allowed the Knicks to shoot their way back into this game.
Trending Up: Carmelo, Kawhi
I am not a Carmelo fan, in any way, shape, or form. However, I was impressed last night with his transformation to a PF. He can always score; last night, his shot was not on, but he did a ton of things to help the Knicks win. His 12 boards were huge (5 offensive) and he created space for noted Spur-wrecker Ray Felton to do this thing. I still the Knicks are a jump-shooting team relying solely on jumpshots for offense, but they look like they’ve taken a huge leap since last season.
Kawhi is awesome. I don’t fully understand how he was a -11 for this game. But he looks like a supremely confident player this season and I’m having fun watching him.
Trending Down: Defense
It was bad. Part of it was the nature of this track meet game, but some basic defensive assignments, like Kidd on the trey-line, were not good. Likewise, way too many Knicks drove down the middle of the lane, as opposed to being pushed baseline, like the Spurs system is supposed to do. Yes, individual players weren’t playing well, in general, but it felt like the whole team stopped running the system.
Stat of the Game: Zero. Rebounds.
Tiago Splitter has played pretty well this season. Last night, in 17 minutes of play, Tiago had 13 points (including the first 12 of the 4th quarter, in a pick-and-roll fest with Tony/Manu) and was 5-for-5 from the FT line. But zero rebounds. Not one. I don’t think that was a key to the game, but I also bet Tiago has never played in a game for more than 10 minutes and not gotten a board. Amazing.
Pop is really experimenting with lineups right now and I think that is what is contributing to the unevenness of the offense (and maybe the defense as well). Diaw played only 15 minutes. Blair started but played less than 9 minutes. I expect this to go on for a while as Pop finds out who he can count on amongst the bigs.