What’s the cure when you are a road-weary basketball team in the middle of your longest losing streak in 22 seasons? Playing the New York Knicks, of course.
The San Antonio Spurs snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 111-104 victory over the Knicks (4-12) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night behind their best performance of the season on both ends of the floor.
The victory is the first since November 7 for San Antonio, who will now return home to open a three-game homestand beginning on Monday night.
“We found some energy and did a good job,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was happy with the effort.”
Here are three observations from the game:
Jak helps LaMarcus’ comfort level
One of the most notable changes to the Spurs’ starting unit is Jakob Poeltl. Without him in the starting five, several teams took advantage of that and had a layup drill in the paint. Since Poeltl re-entered the starting unit, San Antonio has had better control of points in the paint defense and overall a better interior defense.
Someone else who has benefited from having Poeltl back in the starting five is LaMarcus Aldridge. Poeltl and Aldridge play well off of each other, which is evident in Aldridge’s performance improving since Poeltl re-entered the starting five. Case in point, LMA finished Saturday’s game with 23 points and six rebounds while shooting 53 percent.
DeMarre makes a difference
One of the bigger differences in the rotation has been DeMarre Carroll seeing more minutes. He got “meaningful” minutes for the second straight game on Saturday and he made the most of it, as he’s done every time.
Carroll played 13 minutes, finished with two points. He did most of his work on the defensive end as he made life difficult for the Knicks offensively. He put in work on the boards, grabbing seven rebounds.
If the veteran forward can continue to play well off the bench as he has the past few games, he may take away minutes from Marco Belinelli and be the new back up to DeMar DeRozan.
Getting hot from three
Yes, it’s the Knicks. But the Spurs had a great shooting night from beyond the arc. San Antonio went 12-for-23 from beyond the arc, one of their best games from three this season. Patty Mills went a perfect 5-for-5 and Trey Lyles went 3-for-4.
The Spurs will need to stay consistent from three with a big week coming up against the two LA teams as well as Minnesota.
The Spurs are now 6-11 on the season and will return to the court on Monday night when they welcome the Los Angeles Lakers (14-2) to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m.