Written by William Lee
Carmelo Anthony made his return from his sprained ankle, just in time for the dreaded Texas Triangle road trip. The Knicks start the trip off by heading to San Antonio to face the Spurs Thursday night. It is a brand New Year, and New York could not wait to leave 2013 behind them, the Knicks are 9-15, being bottom dwellers in the Atlantic Division. The only thing they can hang their hat on is the fact that the Atlantic Division is so terrible, that the Knicks are still in arm’s length reach of the Division title. We can only hope the New York Knicks has made a New Year’s resolution to go at least .500 the rest of the season.
What a difference a turn in the calendar makes, Iman Shumpert came out of his season long slump, scoring double figures in the first quarter alone, on his way to a career high 27 points. The New Year was so good to Shumpert, with 5:57 in the first quarter, he felt a foul and just threw up a shot off balance, and completed an and-one, to put the Knicks up 15-10. Marco Belinelli did not want to be outdone by Shumpert, Belinelli also scored ten points in the first quarter. Belinelli would also be on his way to a career night, scoring 32 points for the game. The Spurs were lights out from beyond the arc, going 5/7 in the first quarter.
With the Knicks ahead 26-25, the Spurs’ reserve opened up the second quarter on a 13-3 run, continuing to relentlessly rain down threes. This was the story all night long, New York did not contest well on the perimeter. Andrea Bargnani started asserting himself mid-way through the second quarter, scoring six straight points to ignite an 18-6 run to end the first half. Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert would also contribute six points each to the run as well, to give the Knicks a 52-47 lead at the half. San Antonio was right in the game, and started missing wide open threes, not making New York pay for their defensive lapses. This trend would continue in the second half for the Spurs.
Both teams would exchange baskets to start the third quarter. Mid-way through the quarter the Knicks would go on a mini-run 7-2, to take ten point lead with 4:10 remaining. Kawhi Leonard was in foul trouble all night, being matched up one on one against Carmelo Anthony. Leonard picked up an early fourth foul with relegated him to the bench, and allowed Anthony to go off on his teammates, scoring nine points in the third quarter. Anthony finished the game with 27 points 12 rebounds and 4 assists. San Antonio started double teaming Anthony on every possession, which allowed Beno Udrih to go off, going a perfect 4/4 from the field for eight points in the quarter. Marco Belinelli kept the Spurs in the game, scoring another ten points in the third quarter. The game was close throughout, and New York could not extend their lead, entering the fourth quarter with an 81-75 lead.
The Spurs shot only three threes in the third quarter, being contained compared to the 9/17 barrage from beyond the arc in the first half of the game. The Spurs would launch 12 threes in the final period, in an attempt to catch up, and it worked. Behind three straight consecutive three pointers, San Antonio would go on a 13-2 run to take a two point lead with two minutes remaining in the game. Carmelo Anthony stopped the run, tying the game up 98-98 with 1:12 left in the game.
On the ensuing possession Tony Parker penetrated to the paint, missing a tough layup, and getting knocked to the ground, but no call was made. This triggered a five on four fast break for the Knicks with Parker on the floor, but with poor spacing the Spurs were able to defend the play long enough for Parker to sneak back into the picture, causing a loose ball from behind. There was a mad scribble for the ball in midcourt with J.R. Smith coming out with the loose ball and finding a wide open Iman Shumpert for three. The three gave the Knicks a three point lead with 39.1 seconds remaining in the game. Gregg Popovich took a time out and drew up a play for, guess who, Marco Belinelli. Belinelli with the hot hand, was wide open, straight on three, the game was tied again with only two seconds coming off the game clock. Woodson not surprisingly drew up a play for Anthony, who missed a corner three, but Iman Shumpert refused to let the Knicks loss, soaring high for the offensive rebound and gently tipping the ball back in to give the Knicks a 103-101 lead. Marco Belinelli had his chance to be the hero on the next possession, but would miss the potential game winning three. Anthony would seal the game at the free throw line, giving New York their best victory of the year, a 105-101 victory over San Antonio to start off the New Year.