Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. New York Knicks – Game #31

On the second night of a back-to-back, the San Antonio Spurs posted an impressive victory over the New York Knicks. The Knicks entered the contest with a four-game winning streak but the Spurs cruised to a 119-93 victory. San Antonio is now 18-13 on the season, while New York is 18-18.

Key Stretch

The Spurs held a 66-60 midway through the third quarter. That’s when their defense sparked a 13-2 run during a five-minute stretch to blow the game open. The Knicks never truly challenged the good guys again. 

Key Statistic

San Antonio’s defense was consistently stout tonight, as the Knicks scored 25 or fewer points in each quarter. This was the first time the Spurs held an opponent to under 100 points since Jan. 16. 

spurs knicks grades

Spurs vs. Knicks: Final Grades

Dejounte Murray

It was another strong performance from Murray. Right now, his three-point stroke looks really good and his decision-making is as reliable as it’s ever been. Defensively, he fell asleep and was too easily picked off by screens a couple of times but was otherwise impressive on that end. His energy both on the interior and on the perimeter was commendable. 
Grade: B+

DeMar DeRozan

This was the third straight game that DeRozan totaled exactly 11 assists. As that number suggests, his passing was fantastic. He was finding the open man with perfect passes, even if the open man inhabited the other side of the court. With as hard as the Knicks were collapsing on him, the fact that DeRozan had no turnovers and didn’t force bad shots was a big reason why the Spurs won. Defensively, he was active, as evidenced by his four steals. 
Grade: B+

Lonnie Walker IV

Not terrible, not great. Obviously, missing 9-of-10 three-pointers is suboptimal but I’m a fan of Walker taking as many threes as possible. Inside of the three-point line, he had a couple quality drives and a few good passes. Defensively, his awareness level was satisfactory. 
Grade: C+

Jakob Poeltl

Poeltl doesn’t look like a guy who will be returning to the bench anytime soon. Defensively, he’s playing at a really high level right now. From switching out on the floor to defending the rim to grabbing defensive caroms, he’s doing it all right now. Offensively, his aggressiveness with the ball helped loosen New York’s defense. Poeltl was also setting mean, barely-legal screens on and off the ball. Add in a handful of smart passes and it’s safe to say he’s making the most of his minutes. 
Grade: B+

Trey Lyles

Lyles turned up his intensity level and aggression level to the required notches. He came out of the gates looking to shoot the ball — and that helped him be more impactful than usual. Lyles is getting good lift on his shots and remains a threat to drive the ball. Defensively, his hands were active and he was sturdy enough in the lane. 
Grade: A-

Patty Mills

When a momentous three-pointer was needed, Mills was ready and willing to answer the bell. He did well pushing the pace and his constant motion in the halfcourt sets was helpful. Defensively, he was attentive. All in all, Mills’ tenacity in all facets was palpable. 
Grade: B+

Luka Samanic

Well, wow. First of all, Samanic has gone from a guy who has never been accused of being a dedicated defender to all of a sudden looking really good on that end of the court. Whether the situation calls for him to move his feet quickly or to hold his ground against a burly player, he’s looking mighty capable in either scenario. He also has good instincts rebounding-wise. After watching him in the last few games, it’s not crazy to think that Samanic’s quickest journey to earning everyday NBA minutes involves him being a defensive ace. Offensively against the Knicks, the 21-year-old shot threes with confidence and ran the court well. The only real blemish for him on this night was his turnover count. His four turnovers (two charges, two travels) were half of the team’s total. Turnovers have always been an issue for him so this is an area he needs to continue to work on. That said, Samanic has done well to establish himself as a legitimately exciting prospect. 
Grade: A-

Drew Eubanks

With LaMarcus Aldridge out with an illness, Drew Eubanks was the backup center. He didn’t really move the needle but he also didn’t hurt the team. He played with a lot of physicality and his agility was a useful attribute during multiple possessions. His decisions weren’t always pristine but he played hard enough to cover most of his miscues. 
Grade: B-

Keita Bates-Diop

Rock solid outing for Bates-Diop. His three-point shot isn’t pretty but he’s letting it fly, which is really important if he wants to carve out a career in this league. Defensively, his inhuman length allows him to muck up passing lanes with ease. Overall, Bates-Diop is proving to be a low-mistake player who can be relied upon when his number is called. 
Grade: B+

Keldon Johnson

Hey, look who’s back. After an unexpected COVID-19-related interlude, Johnson was given 11 first half minutes to begin the process of working him back into shape. Johnson looked good. He might not have been quite as springy as usual but he was his same productive self. He played hard on both ends and didn’t hesitate to throw around his body. 
Grade: B+


Good stuff by Pop. I liked that he stuck with Walker despite his shooting struggles. Believing so much in Samanic is also paying dividends. Without four rotation players, he’s been able to carve out a workable rotation. Pop’s play-calling also led directly to four or five easy buckets. 
Grade: B+

Next Up

In their final game of their four-game homestand and their final game prior to the All-Star break, the Spurs take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.