New York: Bench player Steve Novak led a sizzling three-point shooting display as the New York Knicks mixed spectacular attack with a much improved defence to stun the red-hot San Antonio Spurs with a 100-83 win at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
With Novak making five-of-seven attempts from beyond the arc to total 15 points and Carmelo Anthony adding a game-high 23, the Knicks snapped the Spurs’ seven-game winning streak in rampant style.
There were further stellar contributions from the New York bench with J.R. Smith weighing in with 20 points and Amare Stoudemire 10 as the home team outshot San Antonio by 44.4 percent to 26.5 from behind the three-point line.
The Atlantic pace-setting Knicks broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter, starting out with a 15-2 run, to improve their record to 22-10.
“After a great start this season defensively, the last 10 games we went down,” Knicks reserve point guard Pablo Prigioni, an NBA rookie at the age of 35, said courtside after finishing with six points and nine assists.
“The coach showed clips to us and showed us how we were playing now and how we played then. Today we came back to that level.”
All-Stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each scored 11 points for the Southwest leading Spurs, who had been averaging 111.7 points per game this season until their offense was stifled by the Knicks on Thursday.
“We played great tonight,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters. “We beat a damned good ball club. It took a total team effort.”
New York had conceded more than 100 points a game for each of their last 10 games, but restricted the high-powered Spurs with an intensive defensive effort.
“When you play defence at a high level like we did tonight, you put yourself in position to win games,” Woodson added.
“They are going to have to continue to play that way. The ball moved ... Novak got some great looks, J.R. had great looks ... the ball was moving.”
The Knicks ended a closely-contested first quarter with a 22-19 lead and they padded that to 37-29 midway through the second quarter when Novak made his second three-pointer.
However the Spurs steadily clawed their way back and successive free throws by Duncan cut the deficit to 42-40 at halftime.
New York, who outshot San Antonio by 47.6 per cent to 36.4 from the field throughout the game, built a 67-60 advantage by the end of the third quarter before breaking the game wide open in the final period.
“We started out the game sticking to our script, being the more aggressive team,” Anthony said.
“They were double-teaming, triple-teaming me. It was just a matter of us making shots when I swung it out.
“Novak made shots, J.R. made shots. Pablo came in and led our team from the point guard position.
“Everyone contributed in their own way, made some great passes. It was just a matter of getting it to the open man.”
In a bizarre moment, Spurs forward Stephen Jackson exited the game with a sprained right ankle after playing just three minutes off the bench after crashing into a waitress working in front of courtside seats.