The Knicks were very much in Tuesday’s game with the San Antonio Spurs in the first half, even building up an eight-point lead in the second quarter. Yet even the largest Knicks lead came with a familiar asterisk—their opponent was getting looks from beyond the arc, but the shots just weren’t falling.
The shots would eventually fall, of course—these are the Spurs, after all. Those automatons dressed in silver and black eventually fixed the glitch long enough to take care of the Knicks, 100-91. Not even another Spurs offensive fallow period—this time late in the fourth—was enough to save the ‘Bockers once they lost the lead. That San Antonio defense is simply too stifling, and the Knicks’ offense these days is very easily stifled.
The main culprit on O was Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 13 points on a woefully inefficient 5-19 shooting. In this city, that kind of performance will get you a snarky pun on the back page.
Personally, I don’t feel there’s any shame in getting handled by the Spurs’ defense, which was excellent, as usual. Kristaps seems to understand that he has been given a heady challenge without his true No. 2 offensive option, Tim Hardaway Jr. Per Jonathan Wagner:
"Especially now that Tim is out, there’s a lot of tension on me. When I was getting all those 30-point games early on in the season, the double-team wasn’t coming and] I was getting touches in the post much easier. But I’m learning."
Beyond the usual difficulties of facing the Spurs, Tuesday’s game illustrated perfectly the need for Timmy’s return. The Knicks’ offense got off to a hot start thanks to the contributions of Lance Thomas, who scored 13 points in the first half. I don’t think I have to tell you that Lance cannot be counted on to provide 13 points every half (he had zero in the second half). Meanwhile, the team’s kinda-sorta secondary option in the starting lineup, Courtney Lee, struggled in shooting 5-15 from the floor. Michael Beasley (who else?) ended up leading the team in scoring with 18 points. We’ve already been here, folks—we know what comes from relying too much on Beasley on an every-game basis.
So is there any good news to come from Tuesday’s loss? How about this...
A brief look at Tim Hardaway Jr. working out before last night’s game. He seems to be progressing toward a return sometime this month. The Knicks have felt his absence lately. pic.twitter.com/NvWdD7rLHu— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 3, 2018
Huzzah! If you had told me a few months ago that I’d ever be this happy watching Tim Hardaway jacking up shots in a Knicks uniform, I would have slapped you right in the face. But the kid gave New York’s offense some serious oomph before he came down with that stress injury in his leg. Hopefully Timmy returns soon, in perfect health, and eases the offensive burden on the Unicorn.