The San Antonio Spurs ride the league's longest win streak against a New York Knicks squad that has one of their stars back, but finds themselves having lost back-to-back games for only the second time all season.
New York's offense is as potent as ever, but their defense, which started out the year as one of the best in the league, is now below the league average. Amar'e Stoudemire did look rusty in his return to action Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, but his six points on eight shots wasn't the biggest issue in a 105-100 loss, nor was it the reason New York fell behind by 27 points on Friday against the lowly Sacramento Kings. That night, they eventually fought back, but lost on a buzzer-beater by James Johnson. With those two defeats, the team has dropped two in a row. They haven't lost three times all year.
As for San Antonio, everything is starting to click: they've won seven straight, with four of those seven wins coming by 20 points or more. Their offense is the fourth-most efficient in the league, their defense the fifth-most efficient, and that's going to lead to lopsided victories. Tim Duncan is once again hogging the fountain of youth, with his numbers up across the board, most recently featuring a 28-point, 13-rebound, six-assist outing Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. If the teams play their most frequently used lineups Thursday night, Duncan will end up paired against the smaller Carmelo Anthony, a matchup that gives each player distinct advantages on offense.
The Knicks won the first meeting between these two on the road, but most impressive was the way they won. New York trailed by 12 points with less than eight minutes to go due to a stagnant offensive effort -- to date, still Anthony's only single-digit performance of the year - but rallied back by forcing turnovers late and hitting shots.