Knicks get another shot at Spurs
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NEW YORK -- The last time the New York Knicks played the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge lit them up for 25 points and five other Spurs scored in double-figures in a 12-point win. Unfortunately for the Knicks, that was but a mere few days ago, as San Antonio scored a 119-107 home win over the Knicks on Dec. 28.
This time around, the game is being played on the Knicks' turf, as New York hosts San Antonio on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, who snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday in a 105-103 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder, will have to play stiffer defense on Tuesday against the Spurs, who shot better than 50 percent (41-of-80) from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range.
"Overall I thought we played well," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said after that game. "We didn't get enough stops -- they shot 51 percent, and there were some tough matchups for us in there with Aldridge's size and (Pao) Gasol's length and passing. But we never quit, we battled back. The Spurs got a lot of 50-50 balls that they turned into 3-pointers at crucial times but our effort tonight was great."
When the Knicks first played San Antonio, the Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard and New York was without Tim Hardaway Jr. Now the Spurs should have Leonard back while the Knicks will still be without Hardaway, who remains out with a left leg stress injury.
Should Leonard return, he'll provide even more firepower to a Spurs frontcourt that already boasts to valuable veteran presences, one that was at the top of their game against the Knicks in their showdown last week.
"We are just playing well together right now," Gasol said after the win on Thursday. "We have to try to keep it up, to keep it going. LaMarcus and I have developed an understanding to where he can feel off my passing from a high post and that gives him an opportunity to get into deeper positions into go to work again smaller guys or later guys without any chance of getting double-teamed. I'm just reading the plays, trying to find the mismatches and attacking them. We want to maximize our size and shocked that it works. As a consequence, we have both been on the floor some more and that's helped our production."
New York has at times flashed a dominant front-court as well, but Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter have been an even at times as well.
Against the Spurs, Porzingis had 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting and Kanter had just 12 points and six rebounds though he is averaging a double-double the season.
Two days later against the Thunder, Porzingis had 30 points.
"I'm learning how to make the right past when I get the ball, how to make the right pass or make the right play," Porzingis said on Monday. "I've been getting better at that but also still have moments when I'm too stagnant, whether I should drive by the guy and make something happen -- I'm just kind of looking for, waiting for the help to come and then trying to make a play. But I think I did a better job this last game; as soon as I got the ball I tried to make a move or do something and be aggressive right away."
Updated January 1, 2018