The New York Knicks nearly figured out Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. Down by three with 33 seconds left, Kristaps Porzingis sprung free on an inbounds play for an easy dunk. After a Tony Parker miss on the ensuing possession and Carmelo Anthony with the ball, the Knicks had a chance to do the impossible -- to beat the Spurs in San Antonio. But Anthony passed the ball to Jose Calderon, who missed a three from the corner as the clock expired. The Spurs won 100-99 to extend their home winning streak to 31.
Leonard led the way for the Spurs with 19 points, 12 rebounds and two steals on a night when the Knicks wouldn't go away, thanks mostly in part to Porzingis. The rookie had 28 points and 11 rebounds and was at one point in the first half the only Knick that could get anything going.
To be fair, though, Anthony was going up against Kawhi Leonard. Anthony missed seven of his first eight shots trying to find his way against Leonard, who makes it almost impossible to score. (Anthony ended the night with 20 points on 5-of-15 shooting.) Leonard is always aware of where his man is, but can still sit back to help play great team defense. There's never a time to be lazy when Leonard is on the court.
On a night when the Spurs weren't at their best for stretches, Leonard's play was the difference maker.
Their depth helps, too. Tony Parker stepped up in the fourth quarter and down the stretch after the Spurs let the Knicks erase a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. And LaMarcus Aldridge put up 16 points and nine rebounds, but he couldn't contain Porzingis.
The Knicks rookie continued to show not only what a bright future he has, but what a great player he already is. He put up the great stat line and he makes great plays.
The Knicks were down by 12 with 6:21 to play, but they didn't let up. Porzingis hit a jumper, Anthony started getting to the rim, Arron Afflalo hit two threes and the Porzingis dunk put the Knicks within one.
But in the end, Leonard played smothering defense on Anthony in the final play of the game -- which is why Anthony passed the ball.
The Knicks put up a valiant effort, but it's never easy against Leonard and the Spurs.
3 things we learned
Andrew Wiggins is good, but the Cavaliers don't need him right now.
In two games last season, Wiggins averaged 30 points per game against the team that drafted him with the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was even better on Friday, putting up 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep. But the thing is, the Cavaliers don't need Wiggins right now -- they're just fine with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The Cavaliers have won six straight games and are doing so handily. It was never close in their 125-99 win over the Timberwolves. James and Irving had 13 points each, but Love added 20 points in his return to Minnesota and J.R. Smith couldn't miss, scoring 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting. The Cavaliers are healthy and starting to hit their stride. Even with the Bulls and the Heat improving, it seems inevitable the Cavaliers will be in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.
No one can stop the triple-double machine that is Draymond Green.
Green picked up his eighth triple-double of the season, with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the Golden State Warriors' 128-108 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Jason Kidd has the most triple-doubles in a season since 2000, with 13 (per Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated). Green really might eclipse that number this season a year after Russell Westbrook came closest, with 11. Green isn't the best player on the Warriors, but he's proving just how important he is. He's always done the little things, and it's finally showing up in the stat line.
The Oklahoma City Thunder still have some work to do, even if Lou Williams' 44 points isn't a normal thing.
That's the case when you lose to (barely hold on for a win against) the Los Angeles Lakers after giving up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. The Lakers have been playing a higher brand of basketball lately -- they came back from 27 down to the Kings on Thursday before losing -- but if the Thunder are thinking about winning an NBA championship, they can't be laying an egg in the fourth quarter against a Lou Williams led Lakers team. They made mistake after mistake, turning the ball over, fouling three point shooters. The Thunder were lucky to win. Williams, to his credit, was fantastic. He made shot after shot down the stretch and almost willed the Lakers to victory. His 44 points were the most by a Laker not named Kobe Bryant since Shaquille O'Neal in March of 2003.
As for the Thunder, Kevin Durant and Westbrook keep doing their part offensively, but the rest of the roster seems stuck in a groove waiting for the stars to take care of everything. That is necessary most of the time, but when things start to fall apart like they did against the Lakers in the fourth, someone has to step up. No one is ready for that on the Thunder roster.
Play of the night
Stephen Curry can pass, too. This no-look alley-oop from behind the hoop to find Andrew Bogut is so perfectly placed it seems made up.
5 fun things
Kobe Bryant made a pass that didn't seem to follow the laws of physics.