The Knicks have really enjoyed having Tyson Chandler around this year. His interior defense covers for a lot of mistakes and has been the major reason why New York remains an above-average defensive team. In case that wasn't totally clear, the Knicks made it so on Wednesday night against the Spurs. With Chandler sidelined due to a hamstring strain (and Jared Jeffries also out of commission), the Knicks found themselves totally helpless against Tony Parker's speedy penetration. Without anybody to impede it, the San Antonio offense ran as smoothly as ever, and carried the Spurs to a 118-103 victory.
New York played shorthanded and made a bit of a lineup change. Iman Shumpert replaced Landry Fields in New York's starting backcourt and, at the outset, matched up with Parker. Neither he nor Jeremy Lin nor the two of them holding hands could contain Parker, though. He wheeled off picks and into the paint with ease, either drawing help and kicking out to the perimeter or, more often, encountering no help at all and finishing at the rim. Parker finished with 32 points on 19 shots and most of the rest of the offense (Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili each had 17) resulted from New York's inability to defend Parker.
On the other end, San Antonio frustrated an already faltering Knicks offense. Four Knicks -- Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and J.R. Smith -- shot decently and contributed meaningful scoring for New York, but they did so almost entirely by themselves. New York's ball movement and transition game were severely lacking, and even when the Knicks did pass crisply to find open shots, the good looks rarely paid off. New York as a team shot just 43 percent.
So, basketball-wise, it was a pretty uneventful evening. The game did get a little rowdy at times, though. Stoudemire and DeJuan Blair exchanged shoves and had to be separated before receiving double technicals. Baron Davis and Richard Jefferson appeared to get into a verbal altercation. Nobody, though, made as great a scene as Gregg Popovich. Allow Pounding the Rock to describe the event to you:
Up by 22 points near the end of the third quarter, Pop clearly had an issue with the officiating and took action. His initial pursuit of the referee earned him a quick technical, but he wasn't close to finished. By the time the "argument" was over, Popovich had chased his target all the way out to halfcourt before taking an early trip to the locker room as Spurs fans stood and cheered wildly in support. It was Pop's first ejection of the season, which is impressive considering there have already been 38 games played. Following the game, Parker blamed a bad bottle of wine from the night before as the reason for Pop's premature exit.
It was a terrific spectacle, and totally out of the blue. It didn't make much of a difference, though, because any doubt going into the game had long since dissipated. Might as well beat the traffic, right?
New York fell to 18-21 with the loss while the Spurs hit 26-12 in victory.