LOST IT. 3 Reasons why San Antonio 119 NY 93 on 3-2-21

Beating Detroit was so easy, that you thought maybe these undermanned Tom Thibodeau 18-17 Knicks had a shot to beat the 17-13 San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. This despite the fact that:

  • Before the game it was announced Derrick Rose would miss the game because he had an inconclusive COVID test result. This threw yet another straw onto the Knicks stack of injury straws — with Elfrid Payton already out, it would mean Frank Ntilikina would start at point.
  • On top of that Taj Gibson would be out again, and with Mitchell Robinson out, it would mean Nerlens Noel would be the only center available again.

On the other hand, there would of course be no fans in San Antonio due to Coronavirus, so home court advantages are reduced. The Knicks have been on such a roll under Thibodeau maybe they’d have a chance against the well-coached Gregg Popovich team.

Well that didn’t happen.

1. Knicks Gave Early Promise They’d Win

San Antonio got out to an early 10-pt lead in the 1st quarter but the Knicks 2nd team came out at the end of the quarter and got right back into it on some 3’s by Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Knox, and Obi Toppin.

RJ Barrett and the 1st team then took command and the Knicks took a 6-pt lead of their own late in the 2nd quarter. It looked like these Tom Thibodeau Knicks were so good — they were going to take this game.

San Antonio pulled back to a 1-pt lead and the half ended on a Nerlens Noel block of a San Antonio shot and ball out of bounds, but Popovich got the refs to put 0.3 seconds back on the clock — enough time for a Patty Mills 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer for a 4-pt San Antonio lead at the half.

2. Ntilikina’s 3’s Outdueled by Mills’ 3’s; Spurs Put Petal to Metal

The Knicks hung with San Antonio for the first half of the 3rd, still down by 4 or 5 points with 4 minutes left. Much of the Knicks offense was coming from Frank Ntilikina — who had zeros’s across the board in the previous game and had 2 points at the half in this one — but finally started shooting — hitting a 2 and then three 3’s in the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter. But that was it — Ntilikina didn’t score again; in fact he took only one more shot.

Meanwhile Patty Mills starting popping 3’s — hitting three 3’s in the last 6 minutes of the 3rd — and San Antonio started to pull away. San Antonio led 87-68 by the end of the 3rd. It was over Johnny.

Mills finished with 14 points off the bench on 5-10 (4-8 from 3) shooting.

Ntilikina had 13 points on 5-7 shooting (3-3 from 3), 2 rebounds, 0 assists in 25 minutes as the starting point guard.

3. Spurs Better Oiled; Wanted It More

The 4th quarter was blowout time; the Knicks were led by Immanuel Quickley (26 points on 8-21) but that was no match for San Antonio’s well-oiled machine of Trey Lyles (18 pt), 6’4 point guard Dejounte Murray (13 pts), DeMar DeRozan (10 pts), and Lonnie Walker IV (15 pts).

The Knicks, short-handed due to the injuries, seemed defeated — like they knew they were going to lose. They could have used Elfrid Payton‘s penetrations to disrupt San Antonio’s Defense, and Payton’s feisty aggression on Defense. Rose, Mitchell Robinson, and Taj Gibson would’ve helped.

Thibodeau gave some rest to Julius Randle (31 minutes, 14 pts, 11 rebounds) and RJ Barrett (15 pts on 5-9 in 28 minutes). Kevin Knox got 19 minutes and was 2-5 for 7 points, and Obi Toppin got 26 minutes (also 7 pts).

The Boxscore



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