Now That was a Solid Loss — March 15, 2019: San Antonio 109 NY 83

Now that was a solid loss. Knicks were down almost immediately by double digits, and it stayed that way the whole game. Knicks were down 13 at the half, pulled to within 9 with 4:30 left in the 3rd, and with 2 minutes left botched two chances to bring it to within 7 — and then San Antonio flipped the switch and it was light’s out for the Knicks.

Knicks mustered only 83 points against San Antonio’s defense.

And that was it. Does San Antonio have such a talented team on the court? No — not really. LeMarcus Aldridge is good, and there’s DeMar DeRozan, and a bunch of no names, really. But they have vastly better coaching.

For the Knicks, Kadeem Allen was back and looked terrific again — 6 for his first 7, and finished 7-10 for 16 points. He was hitting floaters in the lane, 3’s off the pass, and baseline reverses. Allen was put back on the roster from the G League after Dennis Smith Jr was put on the injured list with a bad back. Damyean Dotson also terrific — 21 points on 9-19. “We’ve seen Dotson run amuck like this recently” — said Clyde Frazier midway thru 3rd.

Knick Guards Trying to “Get Theirs” = Lack of Ball Rotating

But there was something lacking in the backcourt and you saw it if you are an Allonzo Trier fan. Trier has become a ready passer — one of the Knick guards most intent to ‘pass first’ — but in so doing there are possessions where he’s standing on the left or right side of the court and never sees the ball again after passing it. The ball is not rotating around much. The guard with the ball, takes the shot. And so on a possession where Trier does get the ball back, he kind of hurries a shot off. That’s what seemed to be happening the last two games. And coach Fizdale mentioned this earlier in the week — he’s noticed players trying to ‘get theirs’ as everyone is trying out for next year, and the passing had become less.

More evidence of the lack of passing was that the guards were not finding Mitchell Robinson, who got only 5 shots — he was 0-3 but went the free throw line twice; he finished with only 2 points in 21 minutes, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. (He also scored on a slam dunk at the end of the 1st quarter buzzer, but the score was ruled off as too late later.)

Part of that was San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl — both big guys and shot-blocking threats — guarding Robinson inside, eliminating alley-oop opportunities; but most of it had to do with the Knicks not running plays for Robinson or the Knick guards looking for him too much. Emmanuel Mudiay had his second straight good game — 6-14 for 14 points — was hitting his shot. He still doesn’t quite look like a point guard though — looks for his shot first, then maybe the pass, although coach has said he’s the best passer on the team. Before the game, Walt Frazier said “Mudiay knows how to break down the defense, and set up his teammates.”

Battle of Big Men

In the battle of big men, LaMarcus Aldridge hit some tough shots over Noah Vonleh early, and Vonleh didn’t guard him for long as he sprained his ankle and left after 9 minutes. Aldridge had his usual 18 pts (8-14) and 11 rebounds in only 28 minutes. DeAndre Jordan put up big numbers — 11 pts, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. This was the second straight game where he put up big numbers and watching the game, he didn’t seem to look that great. He was good — but… 9 assists? Have to watch the game again. Jakob Poeltl had 12 pts, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks — and put a body on Robinson. Kevin Knox hit a nice 3 but had another soft game — 7 points in 25 minutes.

Other Knicks and Spurs

John Jenkins, Henry Ellenson, and Luke Kornet got minimal minutes. Mario Hezonja and Frank Ntilikina continue to be injured.

For San Antonio, starters Bryan Forbes shot 5-7 for 13 pts, and Derrick White had 3 pts. San Antonio emptied their bench in this one — playing 13 players. Rudy Gay played 19 minutes and was 5-8 for 12 pts, Marco Belinelli got 21 minutes and had a tough 12 points, and Patty Mills had 9 points and a +23.  Chimezie MetuQuincy PondexterDavis BertansDante Cunningham, and Lonnie Walker IV all got playing time.

The boxscore:


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