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Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Knicks, Spurs play a game without defense

Jan 5, 2011, 3:01 AM EDT

Knicks Celebrate

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Knicks 128, Spurs 115: Remember when the Spurs were a defensive team? Actually, they are still a pretty good defensive team — sixth best in the league in defensive efficiency this season — but they forgot how to play it Tuesday. It was a fast-paced game which played to the Knicks strengths and they shot about as well as you can expect.

It wasn’t the pace — these Spurs can run, and frankly even the vintage Spurs teams used to knock off running teams by beating them at their own game — but this was about defense. The Spurs didn’t play it and the Knicks knocked down the shots when they got them. Wilson Chandler had 31 on 13 of 19 shooting, Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton had 28 each.

Heat 101, Bucks 89: Second game in a row where the Heat let a lesser team hang around for a half, then they turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter and pulled away. The one interesting note is that Dwyane Wade and more importantly LeBron James did not settle for jumpers and attacked the rim in the half court. Do that consistently and the Heat just get better. Bad news for the Bucks, they meet the Heat again in a few days.

Bulls 111, Raptors 91: The Bulls bench really won this one — when they entered the game is when the Bulls would pull away. Hence the big wins in the second and fourth quarters (the Bulls won those quarters by 22 points combined). Taj Gibson had 16 points and 14 rebounds off the bench to lead the way.

Memphis 110, Thunder 105: The Grizzlies grabbed the offensive rebound on 30 percent of their missed shots, and that led to them getting eight more attempts on the night. In a close game, that was the difference — Memphis was more physical on the boards. Oklahoma City just looked confused on offense, even though they shot a pretty high percentage.

Mavericks 84, Blazers 81: No Dirk Nowitzki, no Brandon Roy, no Caron Butler… I could go on way to long here. With those key players gone this game was filled with all kinds of ugliness. So credit the Mavs for winning ugly. Good on them.

Lakers 108, Pistons 83: The Lakers could use any win they can get right now, no matter how ugly the slump-buster. Los Angeles looked pretty good, particularly at the start of the third quarter when they cranked up the defensive pressure and the Pistons had no real answer. But the Lakers were met with little resistance. Second night of a back-to-back and last game of the road trip for the Pistons, and Tracy McGrady was the only guy really showing a lot of fight.

Hawks 108, Kings 102: The Kings struggled to defend the Hawks swingmen — Jamal Crawford had 31 and Joe Johnson had 29. When those guys are creating the Hawks don’t lose a lot.

  1. leearmon - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    I think you are underselling the Knicks and their performance last night. Without their third best player, they forced San Antonio to play their game, and yes even at their pace. You are correct, these Spurs can run, but not like the Knicks, San Antonio with several days off to rest came into this game thinking they would be able to win a shootout with New York. Needless to say only played to the Knicks advantage. Bottom line is this game was a bad matchup for the Spurs, Wilson Chandler at the PF position is a nightmare for most teams, and that rang true last night. Not to mention GInobili was taken off his game because he had to run around and chase Landry all game. Are the Knicks better than the Spurs? Ofcourse not, but to take this win away, and base it on the premise that the Spurs lost because they didnt play defense is asinine. Pop went to a full out zone (no disguises) in the 2nd half, when was the last time you saw that? Not a hidden zone, but full out zone! And it still didnt work. All year long i’ve read how the Knicks werent a playoff team, Amar’e is only a product of Steve Nash, New York has no “young talent” (something you kurt recently made the mistake of repeating even in the new year.) Then it quickly turned into the Knicks can’t beat any tough teams. Now within the last month they have beaten New Orleans, Denver, Oklahoma City, Chicago and the Spurs. No, these Knicks are not among the NBA’s elite. No, they are not championship contenders this year, no matter which trades they may or may not get, (unless they get Mayo, and Gasol, but that’s probably a pipe dream), However, these New York Knicks are much better than the NBA media ever gave them credit for. There were “experts” who thought New Jersey would finish with a better record than NYK. I’ve heard them called “frauds” and “overrated” but realistically right now the Knicks are 6 games over .500 and at their best thats probably what you can expect from them. And hopefully a first round date with the Bulls as well.

  2. Fred - Jan 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I agree 100% with leearmon. I’m pretty sure Kurt Helin didn’t watch the game. It’s difficult to get the full flavor of slate of NBA games on a given evening. We get that — and I appreciate being able to come here and get information. But don’t write a recap that suggests you watched a game that clearly you did not. The Spurs played hard D; they just played it poorly against a team that was a difficult matchuo for them. The way the recap is framed is simply irresponsible.

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:06 PM

      I watched some, not all, of that game. If you all really think that is how the Spurs usually play defense, I have land to sell you.

      They made mistakes, the Knicks made them pay. Good on the Knicks, they deserve all the credit in the world. But don’t pretend that if this was a seven game series it would look anything like this in game two. You think they normally keep switching the slip screen Wilson Chandler was doing to leave him mismatched on a tiny little guard over and over and over? If you all watched the Spurs regularly, you’d realize it was an off night for their D.

  3. Fred - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    I agree — I said as much in my initial comment — but your recap made it seem as if they just didn’t show up for the game. Actually, you wrote that they didn’t play D. Not playing D and not playing it well are two different things. Look, I’m not here to diss you. I think your reporting and writing are generally first-rate; I have great respect for your knowledge of the game and I appreciate how hard you work. I just didn’t think the way you captured this particular game was fair or accurate.

  4. leearmon - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    No one is saying this is how th spurs “usually” play defense. But the Spurs don’t “usually” play the best offensive team in thoracic either. Ofcourse San Antonio would win a 7 game series vs the Knicks, but don’t get confused as to our arguments. Pop is one of the best in series coaches in the history of the NBA. So in a series that plays a huge role, not in a one game matchup. The Knicks have scored well vs The Heat, Celtics (twice) and now the Spurs. So why do you assume it was just bad defense by the Spurs? Bad gameplan definitely, poor execution sure. But these are not your father’s Spurs Kurt. This team tries to out run the Knicks, not too many teams can do that. Richard Jefferson is not Bruce Bowen, Ginobili and Duncan have each lost a step and they now play at a faster pace. The Knicks present matchup problems with Amare Fields Felton and most notably with Chandler. If you don’t believe that than I have a country to sell you, Kurt.

  5. gnyj85 - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Knicks hit their shots and minimized turnovers. It’s all about the turnovers. Amare and Felton are a GREAT duo and Chandler and Fields complement them well. Knicks are back. BUTTT…I hate to say it but I think that Galinari is a weak link. Watch..these next three weeks Knicks will turn it up another notch.

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