2015-16 Recap: Spurs 100, Knicks 99

They say there are no good losses. But losing in San Antonio by one point is the least bad loss there is in the NBA this season.

Let’s start with the final play. The Knicks finally got Tony Parker to miss a jumper, and had the ball with 15 seconds left. Langston Galloway grabbed the rebound and brought it across half-court, where Carmelo Anthony scurried to receive the ball.

Kawhi Leonard had locked Anthony in the Claw Dungeon all night, but Melo managed to have a decent offensive: 20 points on 15 shots, thanks to his 10 trips to the free-throw line. Leonard blanketed Anthony, but as Melo moved left, Manu Ginobili leaned just a bit away from Jose Calderon in the corner. Anthony made the pass, the shot went up, but not in. Spurs win.

I don’t think you can ask for a better shot to win the game than Calderon in the corner. He struggled tonight, just 2-9 with no three-pointers, but for the season, he’s hit 46% of corner threes. I’m glad Derek Fisher didn’t call a time out and given the best defense in the league a chance to get set. He did make some after-timeout magic on the previous possession, getting Kristaps Porzingis a free alley oop dunk to bring the Knicks to within one, but that came after a Spurs make.

Porzingis had a tremendous game, especially on offense. The Spurs’ bigs are stout but slow, and KP took advantage, pulling LaMarcus Aldridge, his primary matchup, away from the paint with three three-pointers and taking him off the dribble when Aldridge ventured too far out. Unfortunately, when Aldridge had the ball, he repeatedly overpowered the svelte rookie for post points. The pounding took a toll: Porzingis looked gassed by the middle of the fourth quarter. Still, we got a glimpse tonight of what the battle station will look like once it’s fully operational, and it’s monstrous.

The Knicks went blow for blow with a team that might be playing better than the Golden State Warriors right now. They benefitted somewhat from a poor shooting night on the Spurs’ part—San Antonio shot just 30% from three and they missed some bunny layups. Meanwhile, the Knicks were on fire from three, shooting 42%. Arron Afflalo looked horrible the whole game, but embodied the law of averages in the fourth quarter, hitting two clutch, flat three-pointers, the second of which brought the Knicks to within one.

The Spurs were not slumping on defense. When they’re locked in, they swallow up all 24 seconds, denying passes and bumping cutters until you look up and realize you’ve worked your entire life to provide for your children, but you’ve missed watching them grow up.

It’s a bit of a sour way to end a road trip, but the Knicks took two out of three games against playoff teams. Can’t be mad about that. The Bockers return home Sunday to face the Bucks for the fourth (!) and final time. Let’s bag some antlers for the team bus.

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44 thoughts to “2015-16 Recap: Spurs 100, Knicks 99”

  1. What an amazing show of grit there at the end by the Knicks, and meanwhile, I was shocked by how little grit the Spurs showed right until the Knicks cut it to three points. From that point on, the Spurs played fine (Afflalo’s second three was about as well defended as you can possibly defend a three, although the Spurs did get beat badly on the out of bounds play when Porzingis dunked) but the Knicks were so much hungrier than the Spurs during a time when the Spurs could have put the game away. The Spurs acted like the game was over. Thank goodness that the Knicks did not act that way. What a remarkable final few minutes.

    And yes, Porzingis was stunning tonight. Galloway also had himself one heck of a fourth quarter.

  2. Williams had 44 points, so of course the last three plays of the game are all drawn up for Kobe. He missed two shots but did pass to Clarkson for a three on the other possession. But down two points with less than ten seconds left, Kobe bricks the tying shot.

  3. Porzingis had a huge game tonight, very impressive all around. The Knicks showed a lot of heart, played hard for the most part, and never gave up. They gave the Spurs all they could handle on their home floor. Knicks are playing very good basketball right now.

  4. RE: the ongoing debate on the last thread, I’ve watched it several times and Melo absolutely made the right play. He got into the lane, the defense collapsed, Manu turned away from Calderon for a moment, long enough for Melo’s pass to find him and get a good look at a potential
    Game winning 3. You cannot draw it up any better than that against the league’s best defense on the game’s last play. With all due respect to Galloway, there is no effing way that he makes a better play out of it than that. After all the complaining on this site about Melo playing hero ball, it takes some real chutzpah to bash him about that last play or his all around play in general of late.

  5. Sorry for the misclick above.

    RE: the ongoing debate on the last thread, I’ve watched it several times and Melo absolutely made the right play. He got into the lane, the defense collapsed, Manu turned away from Calderon for a moment, long enough for Melo’s pass to find him and get a good look at a potential
    Game winning 3. You cannot draw it up any better than that against the league’s best defense on the game’s last play. With all due respect to Galloway, there is no effing way that he makes a better play out of it than that. After all the complaining on this site about Melo playing hero ball, it takes some real chutzpah to bash him about that last play or his all around play in general of late.

    This!

    I get such a kick out of the supposed “knowledge” of NY hoops fans. Calderon is the 16th best 3 point shooter of all time who gets a wide open corner 3 which he bangs down at 46% and the supposed cognoscenti is screaming for a once removed D- leaguer with a 39% 2 point fg% this season HAD to take the shot.

    What do you think Galloway’s FG% would be with the entire defense collapsing on him?

    The Melo hatred is out of control.

    Cliff’s notes… the Knicks played a terrific game and at crunch time Melo got the ball in the hands of an all time great shooter for a completely open look from his spot and he missed it. Jesus!

  6. I think Melo did the right thing once he got the ball.

    Calderon is a career .462% shooter from the corner and was open enough to take the shot.

    But I have serious issues with him stopping the play and holding the ball for a buzzer beater shot.

    We fought back from a 12 point deficit with a lot of ball movement.

    I don’t care if is Gallo, Calderon or Afflalo with the ball on the last possession but keep moving the funcking ball.

    Didn’t we learned nothing from last game?

  7. Looking back at the box score this morning, Melo had a nice game, despite all the struggles against Kawhi: 20 points on 12 shots, 12 rebounds (five offensive), two blocks and three assists (COULDA BEEN FOUR THOUGH)

  8. Bob and Jack… I don’t think you’re getting the argument…

    It’s two trains of thought … None of which are wrong …

    1) slow it down, draw the D and kick to open man. which we did…
    2) keep moving, driving, passing, cutting and get and open shot…

    Melo made the right play given we went option 1… I am happy he didn’t take a contested heave. No problems there.

    Given that we didn’t call time out I think some of us, probably just two of us, would have liked to see what would have happened if we kept moving … Not necessarily Gallo getting the last shot… But simply, anyone getting the last shot …. Our 5 on the floor all could shoot a J.

  9. Everyone on this team appears to be taking a step forward together!
    > Grant doesn’t look terrible – Grant/KP high PnR on display yesterday and looking like a money play in the future. Remember how it took a while for Felton/Amare PnR to click? This one’s working right out of the chute.
    > Whoa – Lopez’s hook shot last night over Duncan who then shakes his head in disgust. That hook is looking better and better and his willingness to take the 10ft jumper really adds a dimension to the offense in addition to his top 5 screen-setting ability. Remember how we had hoped Tyson would expand his game in this manner?
    > I had my doubts Melo would be able to modify his game but he’s well on the way. Of course, a talent like KP helps. Melo/KP PnR or PnP should be our money play in the 4th quarter.
    > Lance is money from 3. I hope we’ll be able to re-sign him relatively cheap.
    > I still maintain Gallo would be an above average SG if he becomes a 3&D player who gives you a bit of everything else as well. Pair him and Conley or Bledsoe and we’ve got a top 10 defense and offense. That said, he might be fine playing the 1 next to a playmaking SG like Charlotte Nic.

    Mad props to Phil! Team and our future is starting to take shape. KP/Melo/Lopez/Grant/Galloway are keepers because of ability, fit and contracts. We’ve got plenty of cap and some trade chips (KOQ, Hernangomez, draft picks) to become a serious competitor next year.

  10. That game was nuts. Nuts I tell ya! Way better and closer than we had any reason to expect. The Knicks D was tough tough tough. The offense was poised and took what the Spurs gave them. It wasn’t firing on all cylinders. DWill looked out of it. Afflalo did too till the very end. Calderon was cold. But it’s an anomaly when everyone is performing at peak levels at once. Fisher didn’t let the bleeding continue and made smart timely substitutions. The Knicks played like they knew they could beat them and they were right! Who knew? It’s stunning. Record notwithstanding, this rebuild is well ahead of schedule IMO. I’m a little too jazzed. It’s fun.

    RoLo has become very tantalizing. His D is consistently excellent. His screens are outstanding. He maintains a charmingly wild-eyed Westbrookish intensity whenever he’s on the floor. He is stronger and faster than I’d realized. He pushes almost anybody around. He passed through Duncan like he was a doorway. He boxed Diaw out to the free throw line just cause he felt like it. If his confidence in his post moves continues to increase he could turn out to be a steal.

  11. It’s hysterical that anyone would be criticizing Fisher for his coaching right now. He has a spotty roster giving some of the better teams in the league fits on a consistent basis. During what what was feared to be a disastrous 11 game stretch, his team was a wide-open Calderon 3-pointer from going 6-5, culminating with a win vs. a team that was 21-0 at home.

    I mean, who in their right mind didn’t expect a convincing win by the Spurs last night? No matter what Fisher decided to do on the last play, shouldn’t the conversation start with “Fisher is doing a brilliant coaching job during the last 3 weeks and has Melo playing some of the best ball of his career, and was one play away from coaching a masterpiece against the best coach and possibly the best team in the league on their home court last night, but….”?

    As for me, I’m in favor of a time out in that situation (more than 10 seconds left) but it’s pretty much a coin flip. Had they called a time-out and ended up with the same exact shot, I would have been OK with it. So I don’t get the complaining. I’m sure that when Calderon had the ball in his hands ready to take that shot, the Spurs and Pop were like, “Oh shit…”

    To ask for more than that and to criticize the decision-making beyond simply saying “I would have done things differently on that last play” is petty and simplistic.

  12. Anyone else see KP’s comments about how, even though it wasn’t part of the game plan, when Duncan was guarding him on the perimeter, he wanted to exploit his quickness advantage? He was talking about Tim Duncan. I’ll say this for him — he doesn’t lack for confidence. By the way, I wish I could figure out how to post the link but, if you want a good laugh, find the pictures of Bojan on the beach with his wife and holding his baby. That guy is humongous.

  13. I’m sure that when Calderon had the ball in his hands ready to take that shot, the Spurs and Pop were like, “Oh shit…”

    I saw an interview with Ginoboli where he said he realized he messed up and was sure Calderon’s shot was in.

    Totally agree about Fisher, all the losses earlier were his fault, but I guess he has nothing to do with the great play of late? It did take him a little too long to realize that Sasha and Seraphin should not be getting any minutes, but he’s figured out the rotations and is resisting the temptation to run Melo into the ground (last night he played 39 minutes, but he’s averaging 34.7 for the year)

    Now we have to capitalize on an easy schedule, a loss in any of the next 3 games would be a big setback.

  14. The Spurs beat us without deploying Boban, who is currently averaging 24 and 15 per 36 with a 65% ts%. And his defensive numbers are completely outstanding.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall in Spurs staff meetings.

    I don’t think there was too much Melo hate last night. A few people objected to his commandeering the ball at the end but the final result was satisfactory to the vast majority (myself included.) If he had pulled up and taken an off balance leaner with Kawhi’s mitts in his face there would have been some screaming but he definitely did the right thing.

    RoLo rounding back into form has made a huge difference on this team. It’s honestly fantastic to see the Knicks for the first time since the Riley/JVG era actually running two disruptive defensive forces out there at the same time. It’s beautiful to watch.

  15. Boban has played a grand total of 154 minutes this season so you know maybe he’s just not good enought to get minutes over Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West and Boris Diaw.

  16. Zman. To be clear, that is all I’m saying…. I would have done things differently on the final play… I can’t speak for anyone else though

  17. Calderon is arguably one of the very best jump shooters in NBA history. Any play that ends up with him getting a reasonably open jumper is a good play. Yes, lay ups and free throws are better but those don’t come easily against the Spurs in an endgame situation.

    Amazing game last night. Crossing my fingers but this team is for real.

  18. KJG, I actually agree with you, and so does ruru. I was mainly referring to Ras1980’s outrage at Fisher and calling his actions “dumb” and “indecisive.” It was a 50-50 call, and Fisher decided to let them play. As to Melo getting the ball from Gallo, again, there’s no right and wrong there. To suggest that a virtual rookie with 30 career NBA wins under his belt and a career .498 TS% (he shoots worse from 2 than Calderon does from 3!) is much more likely to make a better percentage play than what transpired is just silly.

    Notorious Melo-basher Owen’s take in @17 is very reasonable and level-headed, as it usually is.

  19. Great game last night, though a win would’ve been incredible.

    I’m a long-standing Melo critic who thinks that he had a very good game last night. I’m very pleased to see his maturation as a leader and distributor this season. I really don’t feel that that I saw that, except on rare occasions, in the past. The last shot the Knicks got was a good one, as many of you have said.

    However, the minority critical camp does have a gripe. First, could the Knicks have gotten a better shot if Melo doesn’t jump in and demand the ball? Maybe… to say that the shot they got was the best that can be hoped for, however, is not true, IMO.

    So, the critics have something to say, and are not “stupid” and such stuff like I read last night. I too still chafe at always having the ball in Melo’s hands at the end of close games, b/c it simplifies the defense. However, Melo’s increasing willingness to pass out of that, as he did last night, makes me less frustrated. Bottom line for me is that, whatever variation of “the triangle” that the Knicks are running does seem to be getting better over time, and I think the more that the team works, the better the chances that late game Iso-Melo sets can work in getting a good shot from whomever gets open at that time…

  20. Nice to hear leaks that team isn’t gonna force anything at trade deadline but I’m also worried that it’s gonna be hard to land one of our target free agents this summer since they’d have to forego that 35m 5th year. So there’s one possibility which intrigues me. Riley’s definitely in win-now mode and DWill surely must have made an impression on him the other night. Would he consider a trade where we exchange DWill/KOQ/Lance for 23yo Tyler Johnson/Andersen? Note Lance fits into trade exception and trade actually reduces their luxury tax exposure. Other permutations are possible. We could also take triangle-certified McRoberts if Riles is looking to shed his salary and we could include Afflalo in various deals. Finally, there is the possibility of involving a 3rd team which, for example, takes KOQ and sends Miami a player they want. Is Tyler Johnson worth it? Am I delusional that Riley would entertain such a deal?

  21. First, could the Knicks have gotten a better shot if Melo doesn’t jump in and demand the ball? Maybe… to say that the shot they got was the best that can be hoped for, however, is not true, IMO.

    So, the critics have something to say, and are not “stupid” and such stuff like I read last night. I too still chafe at always having the ball in Melo’s hands at the end of close games, b/c it simplifies the defense.

    Better shot… really… what are the chances Galloway could manufacture a better shot against a veteran great defense that has played together for so many years? A better shot than an open Calderon corner 3? Play results much?

    Had Steve Nash or John Stockton demanded the ball and did precisely the same thing Melo did (move an create an open look for a certified sniper) we would be touting their genius (and rightfully so)…. but Melo does it and he took the ball out of the hands of the immortal Galloway. It doesn’t make any sense.

    The critics cannot be serious or objective thinking Galloway would have created a better look than Melo did.

  22. Over the last three years, Calderon has hit 50% on corner 3s. There aren’t a whole lot of “better shots” that you can take than one that has a 50% chance of going in.

  23. Call me crazy but I’d much rather have Lance Thomas than Tyler Johnson. And I like Tyler Johnson. Lance has a legit shot at most improved player and is going to get paid this offseason. He’s shooting 40% from 3, plausibly guards 3 positions, and checks all the intangible boxes.

    Hopefully EB rights will be enough to sign him but they may not.

  24. Hopefully EB rights will be enough to sign him but they may not.

    EB rights are mainly useful if we’re at or over the cap, though, right? So re-signing Lance is going to eat into next summer’s cap space. Which I don’t necessarily mind, given how much better he’s become. What I wonder is what it’s going to cost to sign him. He may be inclined to stay because Fish has shown faith in him, and because Phil did him the kindness of paying him slightly above the minimum (which pissed all of us off in the summer), but I can also see other teams looking at him in this summer of cap space. Is the O’Quinn contract around what we should expect? More? Less?

  25. Call me crazy but I’d much rather have Lance Thomas than Tyler Johnson. And I like Tyler Johnson.

    Could we have our cake and eat it too? Couldn’t we still re-sign Lance this summer or is too risky that he might like the Heat and decide to stay there? Keeping Lance would give us EB rights which would allow us to go over the cap to sign him up to league average salary. What is league average salary (MLE?) and would we be willing to pay him a bit more to re-sign him if Heat offer him that? So the plan would be to re-sign Johnson/Galloway by going over the cap and sign Lance outright. Lance would have to approve the trade to Heat in first place and we could tell him that’s the plan. If we trade or waive Calderon and Afflalo/Dwill opt out, I don’t think cap space would be a problem.

    Here’s how a 9-man rotation might look:
    1: Conley or Bledsoe(via trade)/Grant/Galloway
    2: Johnson/Galloway
    3: Melo/Lance
    4: KP/Melo/room exception
    5: Lopez/KP

  26. Every year since Melo has been here save for last year, we have gone a a couple long winning streaks per season. I got a feeling that one of those is about to commence. Playing the Spurs can only make the squad better

  27. Terrific loss.

    I watched the game on DVR and I figured that I wouldn’t have much to add. Then I read through the posts and didn’t see anyone question the fact that KP was fouled before the buzzer went off and should have gone to the line. Some might call it ticky-tack but it seemed he was shoved pretty hard.

    I’m fine with Calderon taking that shot; he’s such a good outside shot. I’m fine that there wasn’t a time out called; this team isn’t great coming out of time outs.

    This is a fun time to be a Knick fan. I sniff playoffs. Bucks, Celts, Nets and Grizzlies this week. Let’s get greedy.

  28. Great game yesterday. I was all but resigned to a loss when they got 12 down (which seemed about right for the gap between the two sides this year), but that come back was gritty AF. Hard to fault the team on the last play. Got as a good a look as you could get against the Spurs and we couldn’t finish it. Hopefully the team can build on the performance.

  29. There was a Star Wars recap guys. We just missed it because the site was effed up. I’ll go comment on it and we can use it up.

  30. @SBondyNYDN 6m6 minutes ago

    Heard the Knicks are scouting Toure Murry at a D League showcase in Santa Cruz.

    Allegedly, Murry’s offensive game has gotten much better of late. Would still rather just give Grant minutes, but if Murry keeps Fisher from ever being tempted to play Sasha, that’s fine by me.

  31. So when do the Bulls decide that they’re better off when Derrick Rose isn’t on the court? His current TS is an atrocious .441, ranking him 314th among active NBA players, and it’s not exactly like he’s a great assist guy or premier defender. I’m sure they’ll be shopping him at the trade deadline, but who wants him?

    Somehow, the Bulls keep winning in spite of Rose, but at some point I think they’re going to have to either move him or play him a lot less minutes.

  32. I didn’t get to watch the game, as I was moving into my first home, which in entertainment value is the diametric opposite of a Knicks-Spurs game. I mean, it’s my all-time favorite NBA team playing… the Knicks. How can you beat that?

    If Ginobili thought he got beat, Melo made a good decision. Y’all dudes won’t accept that the difference between a 56 TS% and 52 TS% over hundreds of FGA is the difference between good and bad, but we’re splitting hairs over whether Calderon’s 46% shot or Gallo’s 40% shot was a better decision for Carmelo to make in a split-second. It sounds like he made a good basketball play, and the numbers worked against him. Losing to what could end up one of the greatest teams ever by 1? Fuck that, I’d call it a W and move on.

  33. Would love Murry- seemed like a good team player last time. Big guard, multitalented on offense, good long defender on the other end.

    From what I remember, he would be our best PG defender the second he stepped on our court.

  34. If fucking space gollum turns out to be like 8″ tall it will retroactively make TFA a good movie

  35. EB rights are mainly useful if we’re at or over the cap, though, right?

    They’re only useful if you’re using up all of your cap space, but I imagine Jackson does plan on doing just that this offseason. So they could keep Thomas’ cap hold (which is pretty low), spend all their cap space and then sign him to the MLE to go over the cap, if they wanted to. So they don’t need to really use cap space on him.

  36. This is a pretty big game tonight. Milwaukee is a long, athletic team that can beat anyone when they play well, and I think their record is deceiving. These are the home wins that a team with playoff aspirations just have to put in the bank.

    If we take care of business, we could catch Boston and Orlando in the next few days.

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