Lethargic from the tip, the Knicks allowed the Spurs to open the game with a 26-9 run and outscore the Knicks 68-43 at the half. The Knicks would eventually go on a 16-4 run in the 4th Quarter to cut the Spurs lead to 7, but their efforts were too little and too late to mount the massive comeback. The Knicks outscored the Spurs by 18 points in the 2nd half, but their lack of defense (allowed the Spurs to shoot 59.1% from the floor and 53.3% from 3) and poor shooting (shot 41.9% from the floor and 25% from three) in the 1st half was too big of a hole to climb out of. The Knicks 2nd half comeback was due to their massive advantage in turnovers and hot three point shooting. New York forced San Antonio to commit 16 turnovers, meanwhile the Knicks only turned the ball over 4 times. The Knicks also made 11 three-pointers in the 2nd half, at a red hot 45.8%. As expected, LaMarcus Aldridge (23 points) and DeMar Derozan (21 points), were the Spurs top guns in this one. However, Patty Mills was the real spark of this Spurs team, scoring 17 points off the bench, while shooting 5-5 from downtown! San Antonio really needed Mills to step up, due to their starting backcourt of Derrick White and Bryn Forbes combining for 8 points on a cold 2-10 shooting and 6 turnovers. Jakob Poeltl, DeMarre Carroll, and Trey Lyles all gave the Spurs fantastic minutes as well. Poeltl posted 11 points without a miss, 10 rebounds, and a defensive rating of 85.7 in 24 minutes of action. Carroll only scored 2 points in 13 minutes, but his suffocating defense ignited the Spurs, grabbing 7 rebounds and leading the game in plus-minus with a +14 and a defensive rating of 82.8. Trey Lyles shot the lights out for the Spurs, shooting 3-4 from three-point and scoring 12 points in his mere 13 minutes of playing time. No Knick had a great night, but many had solid performances. Marcus Morris Sr. led the Knicks in scoring with 20 points. RJ Barrett (13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists) and Frank Ntilikina (9 points, 9 assists, and 6 steals) both filled the statsheet. Bobby Portis Jr. (16 points) and Wayne Ellington (13 points, 4-10 from three), helped the Knicks scoring woes and get them back in this game. Dennis Smith Jr. (7 points, 4 assists, and a defensive rating of 85.7) and Mitchell Robinson (12 screen assist points, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals) both did some good things as well. Julius Randle really struggled in this game, shooting 6-17, 1-5 from three, while also turning the ball over 4 times and posting a team worst 118.2 defensive rating.
Why The Knicks Lost
Defense in the 1st half was the definitive reason the Knicks lost this game. The Spurs shot over 50% from three and went to the foul line 28 times! The Knicks posted an atrocious defensive rating of 136 in the 1st half. The Knicks also shot much better in the 2nd half, propelled by their defense that forced the Spurs to commit 16 turnovers. The Knicks shot 11-24 from three in the 2nd half, taking and making many more threes than they did in the 1st half (4-16).
Running the offense through Julius Randle has seemed to hinder the Knicks all season as his inconsistent shooting and issues with turnovers have ruined the Knicks flow on offense. Randle is currently shooting a terrible 43.7% from the field, while taking over 14 shots a game and turning the ball over 3.6 times per game. Perhaps more of the issue, is the way the Knicks are using him, rather than using him too much. Randle posted an even higher usage rate and attempted more shots per game last season with the Pelicans. Last year, Randle averaged 21.4 points per game on 52.4% shooting. This season, Randle is scoring 16.4% per game on 43.7% shooting. Randle is shooting 8% more from three-point this season than he did last year. Interestingly enough, Randle is also only turning the ball over 3.4% more than he did last year. The biggest change in Randle’s game, is the 11.8% decrease in personal fouls drawn. Randle is taking 13.7% less free throw attempts than in his breakout year, last season. Randle is shooting in transition 5.5% less this year, than last year, and is shooting off cuts 5.4% less than last season. Randle has only shot off cuts in 3.8% of his field goal attempts this season, even though he is scoring 83.3% of the time on those attempts. Randle is only taking 5% of his attempts rolling on the pick and roll, which most Knicks fans contribute to his struggles. However, Randle only took 6.7% attempts rolling last season (just 1.7% more than this season). For this Knicks team to improve, it will be crucial to get their top paid player, Julius Randle, going on offense. The Knicks next game is Sunday evening at 6:00pm Eastern Time at home against their crosstown rival, the Brooklyn Nets.