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Spurs 122, Knicks 115: “Wait, which team is tanking?”

New York loses, San Antonio amuses.

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks won eight consecutive games, climbed all the way up to the no. 6 seed in the East, and were in possession of an 18-13 record when they went to sleep on the night of Dec. 20 after mauling the Dubs at MSG beating them by 38 points.

The New York Knicks have lost their last five games, dropped all the way down to the no. 8 seed in the East, and are in possession of a mediocre 18-18 record after losing 122-115 to the San Antonio Spurs (12-23) on the road in the second game of the Texas Trip.

Julius Randle dropped 41 points to go with 11 boards and seven dimes. Immanuel Quickley followed an ugly road to reach his 36 points (12-of-27 from the field) but still got there, contributing seven rebounds and seven assists on top of it.

Evan Fournier played 17 minutes off the bench and scored 11 himself.

“We didn’t play well,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The numbers, when you don’t win, don’t mean anything to me.”

Can’t say Coach is wrong. You don’t know what doesn’t mean anything for New York Knicks fans, though? The current iteration of this team. P&T’s Honcho Joe couldn’t have written it better: “I don’t want to watch this team anymore.”

Thibodeau kept on going, pointing out the Knicks' 115 points scored on Thursday and saying “that’s enough.” He wasn’t pleased with the overall effort, though, stating that “what goes into winning,” according to him, are “defense, rebounding, and low turnovers.”

“That puts you in a position to win. Everyone is capable of playing defense. Everyone is capable of rebounding. Everyone is capable of taking care of the ball. So, when you’re down players, your margin of error is smaller, but the intensity, if you do those other things, if we do those things as a team, we can beat anybody,” Thibodeau said.

Something must have been missing, then.

In fact, San Antonio finished the game with more rebounds (48 to 38), limited the Knicks to a lower FG% (42.2 to 51.1), and had the same number of turnovers (13) as their counterparts.

Just adding wood to the fire, the Spurs blocked more shots than the Knicks (7 to 2), dished out more dimes (25 to 20), and absolutely destroyed New York in the paint dumping 62 points from there.

“The ball was in the paint the whole night, they scored 38 points the first quarter... and then it was too little, too late at the end. We gotta figure it out,” Thibodeau said after the Spurs nearly ran New York out of the AT&T Center with just 12 minutes on the clock and already leading 38-29.

The Knicks only won the last period (36-30) but the game got totally out of hand and out of reach for a New Yorker bunch that got down by as many as 17 points three minutes into the third quarter.

The narrative and the quotes are getting a bit repetitive and sounding more and more like cliché excuses thrown out there on a nightly basis. Cue Thibs.

“It’s your basketball character — there are tough losses, but you’ve got to move past it. Games keep coming,” said the coach. “Sometimes you’re on the other side. You get a great win and the same thing, you can’t feel too good about it, just got to get ready for the next game.”

Cue Randle.

“It’s a game at a time, I’m just focused on today’s game,” said the forward before the game. After the final buzzer deafened those in attendance, Randle conceded that the Spurs “had confidence,” and that “it’s tough to shut a team down, especially on their home court.”

“We’ve got to get back to our defensive ways,” concluded Randle.

Yeah, right.

Bill Land was calling the game on the Spurs broadcast and he seemingly labeled the Knicks “a hard team to figure out.” Our brothers from Pounding the Rock described them more aptly: “they seem like a really nice buffet of tasty individual dishes.”

The best news coming out of Texas yesterday arrived from Fournier Land. The Frenchman played for the first time since leaving the rotation all the way back on Nov. 13, logged 17 minutes, and dumped 11 points on a 4-of-6 shooting night from the floor.

“He was great. He came in and played within himself,” Randle said of Fournier. “It’s tough to have a rhythm when you haven’t played in that long but he competed, made timely shots. So he was good.” Good, he was, for sure.

Fournier said that he is “doing the work daily,” even though he had not graced the hardwood for more than a month. “I got a chance to play and I was just trying to be present, just, you know, be in the moment and just help the team win… It was a lot easier to play than to be on the bench and watch the guys there. I’m actually happy I got a shot at being back out there.”

We hope this helps get him traded for something more than a bag of peanuts, though who are we trying to fool, or who would really fall for that? It’s a trap, don’t budge (no, not even your, Laker fam).

Thibodeau said after the game that “[Fournier] is a true pro and (his benching/situation) is not easy, and it’s not easy for Derrick [Rose] either, but that’s what being a professional is and that’s what the expectation is.”

Do you know who is having a hard time, too? Cameron Elijah Reddish, Norristown, PA, born and raised.

A few days ago, Cam said that he is ”just trying to stay ready, continue to work on my game,” and that he is “obviously just [trusting] God.”

Reddish didn’t log a minute yesterday, nor the game before yesterday’s, nor the one before that one, etc... getting all the way back to Dec. 3 when he got 9:13 minutes against Dallas right before the Knicks started their eight-game winning streak one day later.

“I’m gonna be 1,000 percent honest with you,” Reddish said before facing the Spurs while discussing his benching and a potential return to the rotation. “You probably know more about that than me. I have no idea. None.”

Reddish added that he “doesn’t have any control over shit,” and that he “can’t do too much thinking or I’ll think myself into misery.” He finished by saying that “you know how that goes, that’s just human nature. I just try to stay in the gym and work out and go from there.”

Jalen Brunson (sore hip) missed his second consecutive game while RJ Barrett (finger laceration) didn’t play against the Spurs either. MSG Network reported that Barrett’s finger was “cut so deep that a tendon was exposed,” with the wing expected to miss at least one week of play.

The Knicks close this dreadful road trip facing the Houston Rockets (10-25) on New Year’s Eve before returning home to kick 2023 off against the Phoenix Suns next Monday, Jan. 2, at MSG.

Quoth JalenBrunsavior: “Shocker. Pops beat Thibs with less. Wait, which team is tanking?“

We’re about to find out about that with the Rockets having the second-fewest wins in the NBA, trailing every living soul out West, and gladly hosting the Knickerbockers next. Can’t wait.