SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs demolished the Knicks 119-93 with a strong second half, extra impressive on the second night of a back-to-back set.
Ten players scored in double figures, led by Trey Lyles who put in a season-high 18 points. Second-year player Luka Samanic scored a career-high 14 points, and Dejounte Murray had an efficient 17 and 6 assists. DeMar DeRozan had 10 points and 11 assists as San Antonio put up 31 assists to just 8 turnovers. The team made a season-high 18 triples, and scored 68 points in the second half on tired legs against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
"I think it was an impressive win on a back to back, tough loss last night and they just keep on truckin," Popovich said after the win. "They should be very pleased with their effort, for a while, right, another game on Thursday. For now, enjoy that defensive effort, transition, rebounding, loose balls, it fueled a lot, we had a lot of people participate."
The Spurs even impressed in that overtime loss to the Nets the previous night, going on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes to tie it at the buzzer. Tired legs have contributed to losses in the previous four SEGABABAs the Spurs played this season, losing all four, but tonight was markedly different.
Dejounte Murray did as Pop said and smiled about one of the team's best wins of the year.
"First half it was kinda back and forth game, slow game I could say, but the second half I was even shocked myself. I was looking up at the score, seeing us taking off, getting stops and hitting shots," Murray said, "It was great to see, it was a great team win, it was a team effort win from the first guy all the way down."
Popovich noted that DeRozan and Murray combined for 17 assists and just a single turnover, attacking and finding people to drive the offense. DeRozan took just five shots, yet he was a constant presence and offensive catalyst for the team.
Trey Lyles had the best game of his season, shooting 4-6 from deep as he led the team in scoring. Five of his seven made baskets came off assists from DeRozan or Murray.
"We stayed aggressive as a team, Dejounte stayed downhill, Deebo, he was finding the open man as well as getting his own," said Lyles, who does most of his damage off the catch as a stretch four in the flow of the offense.
"It's good, they draw a lot of attention, so that leaves opportunities for myself and others to be able to feed off of that, and that showed tonight," he said.
Another stretch four who scored well and defended Julius Randle at a high level was Luka Samanic, who poured in a career-best 14 points, hit 3-5 from deep, grabbed 7 boards, and showcased his impressive all-around game off the bench. Samanic said after the game that playing in the G League helped him a bit with his confidence, and he's just doing the best he can with this current opportunity.
"I just want to be able to switch from player to player, it doesn't matter who it is," said Samanic, emphasizing that he'd check anybody one through five for whatever Coach Pop needed. In this game he got some time guarding Julius Randle, who is in the midst of a breakout year but was held to 14 points on 6-16 shooting.
"It was great, he's an All Star, so it was a good experience for me," Samanic said with a smile. "He's a strong guy."
This was a game where one could say something positive about every Spur who participated, so why not?
Lonnie Walker IV shot 1-10 from three, but he's a 37% shooter from deep and should definitely continue to get shots up. He still added 11 points and showcasing playmaking ability that doesn't always translate to the box score.
Jakob Poeltl remains the anchor of this improving defense, which held the Knicks to under 25 points in each period. He helped make sure New York got nothing easy inside, blocking two shots and impacting many more.
Keldon Johnson made his return from coronavirus health and safety protocols, and he looked spry and active and impactful in his first game back. He came off the bench and was restricted to just 11 minutes, but he led the Spurs with 9 points in the first half, attacking the basket and hitting a triple.
Patty Mills hit huge shots, 4-8 from deep including a fantastic buzzer beater before halftime. His scoring pop off the bench was once again key for San Antonio, as he had 14.
Keita Bates-Diop was an unheralded signing in the offseason, but the former second-round pick played important minutes and showed his versatility on both ends against a Knicks team loaded with talented wings. He hit two triples, and turned one that he missed into a board and a bucket.
Drew Eubanks filled in nicely as the backup center with LaMarcus Aldridge out due to a stomach issue. Eubanks hit a few shots in close and came up for a spectacular rejection on RJ Barrett.
Tre Jones only played a few minutes, but scored on a nice scoop layup and fed KBD for a three.
San Antonio's top to bottom team win has to have them feeling good, but Murray is already looking toward a rematch against Oklahoma City, seeking revenge for a buzzer-beating loss.
"We owe them, OKC, we owe them. It's really important to get this win, mainly I'm a competitor, I want to win, they beat us last time, so I really really want this win," Murray said, noting that it would be especially important before the All Star break.
San Antonio built their lead out to 27 midway through the fourth quarter, with Trey Lyles scoring a season-high 18 points and heading to the bench.
The Knicks cut it to 19, but Dejounte Murray knocked down a triple, then hit a mid-range jumper, then stole the ball and passed to Jakob Poeltl, who dropped it off to Luka Samanic for a layup that gave him 11 points.
Rookie Tre Jones got into the game and snuck to the rim for a scoop finish. Samanic hit another three, giving him a career-high 14 points as the Spurs won 119-93.
Lonnie Walker IV had struggled from the floor in the first half, and opened the second with a difficult fading mid-range shot that he hit.
Jakob Poeltl played great defense to force an air ball on a drive, then swatted his second block of the game. Trey Lyles finished a floater off a feed from DeMar DeRozan in close, and a few possessions later hit a corner three on a feed from Dejounte Murray.
Walker caught in the corner and dribbled into a mid-range make. Poeltl did something he rarely does and put the ball on the floor, turning the corner and driving all the way for a layup.
After a technical free throw, DeRozan made an absurd pass from near one corner over the top of the entire defense to Lyles in the corner for three.
DeRozan found Luka Samanic for another three to put San Antonio back up 10, and then the second-year player drew a charge on Julius Randle on the other end.
DeMar scored one and then found Patty for another three, then Keita Bates-Diop put back his own miss to make it a 10-0 run givinf San Antonio a 79-62 lead. Randle got an and-1 to end that, but Patty answered with another three.
The Spurs won the third quarter 36-21, building an 87-68 lead heading to the fourth.
San Antonio and New York are two of the better defensive teams in the league, and that showed in the second quarter.
The Knicks held the Spurs bucket-less for the first three minutes until DeRozan pump faked and tried to draw a foul, but hit the jumper anyway.
DeRozan got to the line a few possessions later, then he found Johnson on the wing for a high-arcing three that was pure. The Knicks answered with a pair of threes on defensive miscommunications by the Spurs. After that, they got into a shooting rhythm that had previously eluded both teams, building a six-point lead.
DeMar DeRozan made his way to the line, then jumped in at half court for a physical steal, leading to a break that ended with Keldon at the rim.
Lonnie Walker IV caught it open at the arc and drilled his 50th triple of the season, and Dejounte Murray used a hesitation move to tie the game at 43 with a layup.
Immanuel Quickley hit what has to be his millionth floater of his rookie season, and Luka Samanic answered with a tip shot. Julius Randle nailed a fadeaway, and then Jakob Poeltl got to the line where he has struggled. He hit the first and missed the second, but Dejounte grabbed the miss and went to the line himself, where he hit both to put the Spurs back in front.
Walker had a shot blocked at the end of the half, but it wasn't quite the end of the half as they successfully argued to the referees. They got a chance with 0.7 seconds left in the period, and Patty drained a corner three to make it 51-47 at the buzzer.
Trey Lyles got the first few buckets of the game for the Spurs. First he hit a catch-and-shoot three, then he caught at the arc and attacked a closeout with quick dribbles into a floater.
Lonnie Walker IV got fouled on a three-point attempt and hit a couple at the line, then DeMar DeRozan found Dejounte Murray for a triple. Jakob Poeltl started the game by missing a lefty finger roll, but Walker found him on a drive later in the game and he finished the same shot to give the Spurs a 12-6 lead.
San Antonio forced Knicks turnovers on three possessions in a row, but couldn't convert any of it into points. New York cut it to three, but Patty Mills got to the rim and scored a tough reverse off the bench. Pop called timeout with a 15-12 lead.
Keldon Johnson came on and drove strong for a layup, as he's been known to do. The brief hesitation in his drive created a lot of space.
Both teams struggled with offensive execution, but Luka Samanic came into the game and tried a couple of threes, drilling the second. He attacked off a catch and was called for a charge.
Drew Eubanks swatted a dunk attempt by RJ Barrett and later finished a hook shot.
In one of the truly weird plays of the season, a missed Samanic triple found Patty under the hoop and he passed it off the bottom of the rim and backboard to Johnson, who finished a layup and gave the Spurs a 10-point lead.
The Knicks hit three triples and quickly cut their deficit to two, making it 25-23 after a quarter.
San Antonio Spurs vs. New York Knicks
When, where: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., San Antonio
All-time series record: Spurs lead 55-40
Last season: Spurs won series, 2-0
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs won 111-104, November 23, 2019
Knicks' last game: Won vs Pistons, 109-90
Spurs' last game: Lost versus Nets, 117-114
Knicks' last 10 games/streak: 7-3, won 3
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, lost 1
Knicks' injury/inactive report: Derrick Rose: OUT (health and safety protocols); Elfrid Payton: OUT (hamstring); Taj Gibson: OUT (ankle); Mitchell Robinson: OUT (hand).
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Devin Vassell: OUT (healthy and safety protocols); LaMarcus Aldridge: OUT (illness); Rudy Gay: OUT (health and safety protocols); Derrick White: OUT (health and safety protocols); Keldon Johnson: ACTIVE (health and safety protocols) .
The Spurs are back at it in San Antonio, facing the upstart Knicks at home after falling to the Nets in overtime the previous night.
Keldon Johnson will make his return for the Spurs, but before the game Coach Popovich said he wouldn't start and he'd play on a minutes restriction.
San Antonio has yet to win a second game of a back-to-back set this season.
Spurs' 4th quarter run forces overtime, but Nets pull ahead in extra minutes
The Spurs went on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the Brooklyn Nets as Dejounte Murray's miraculous buzzer-beater dropped, but San Antonio fell in the extra frame 124-113.
It was a strong showing for a Spurs team still without four key players due to coronavirus, playing against one of the top teams in the league even without Kevin Durant. San Antonio played a quality game against a quality opponent, and just didn't come up with the win.
"I thought they were great, they really worked hard, they've dug down deep all year, they never give in, and tonight was a good example."
"We laid it all out there, our effort defensively really picked up our effort offensively," said Lonnie Walker IV. "I'm really happy on how we played as a team, and did it the right, we just unfortunately didn't come up with the win."