Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the New York Knicks salvaged the finale of a tumultuous five-game homestand by beating the San Antonio Spurs 94-90 on Sunday.
With Latrell Sprewell and a number of other former Knicks in attendance two days after Charles Oakley was banned, the current team pulled out a defensive performance from its past, limiting the Spurs to 36 percent shooting.
That came just two nights after the Knicks yielded 131 points in a dismal defensive performance against Denver, which came after losses to Cleveland and both Los Angeles teams to start the homestand.
Kawhi Leonard had 36 points for the Spurs (41-13), who had their two-game win streak snapped and failed in their first attempt to secure what would have been an NBA-record 20th consecutive winning season.
The Knicks didn't let the Spurs reach 70 points until fewer than 8 minutes remained. Then Anthony provided offense when they needed it clinging to a two-point lead, making consecutive baskets to make it 92-86 with 33 seconds remaining.
Anthony's relationship with Phil Jackson and resulting trade rumors were a constant throughout the homestand, though the fallout from Oakley's arrest after an altercation with security guards last Wednesday became the bigger story. >> Read more
Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press
The Knicks have to be relieved to get a victory in a game like this. Anthony hit some very clutch shots in what could have been his last home game at Madison Square Garden given New York doesn't return home until after the trade deadline. Still, this gives him a good memory, playing hero against a tough Spurs squad. Derrick Rose was clearly in attack mode and came up big with 18 points, finding most of his offense around the rim. It's no secret the Knicks' offense is stronger when Rose has eyes for the hoop.
Anthony and his teammates shot poorly in the first half. The offense was stagnant, had little ball movement and gave up 17 points off turnovers.
Luckily for New York, the San Antonio was even more off its game, shooting just 36 percent. It wasn't due to an amplified defensive from the Knicks by any means. While the Spurs got the shots they wanted, they simply weren't falling. Even so, it's easy to see how they are normally so successful. Players are incredibly active off the ball and they create tremendous spacing. The Knicks should take a nod from their opponent's terrific team communication moving forward. It's something to admire.
On a day when so many former Knicks were recognized, David Lee made sure he too was not to be forgotten. The former Knicks All-Star has settled into a backup role for the Spurs and still looked terrific against his former team. Lee was a beast on the boards for a reserve, grabbing seven. His veteran presence adds to increased flow because he simply makes the right plays. What's more, his four offensive rebounds constantly put the pressure on the Knicks and never made victory too secure for them.