Spurs Swat Knicks, Grab 20th Victory
San Antonio 109, New York 96
NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- As soon as the final buzzer sounded on their loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs were more than ready to bounce back.
Michael Finley scored 19 points and Tony Parker collected 18 and 10 assists as the Spurs rolled to a 109-96 victory over the New York Knicks, who have dropped seven straight games.
Facing a fourth game in five nights and opposing a team that had been idle since Saturday, the defending champions had no problems in blowing out the Knicks.
"We responded well from a tough loss last night and that's what a coach always looks for," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It was great to see them angry enough to try and put last night of their heads. We played well most of the night and a lot of the fuel was from the result of last night."
"I think we played consistent the whole game and played unselfishly," added Parker, who missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in Tuesday's overtime. "The second half (we) came with the same energy. We had to be motivated because we just lost two games."
The Spurs opened the game with a 15-4 run, spent most of the first half leading by double digits and built the lead to as many as 32 in the second half. They shot 56 percent (42-of-75) from the field and avoided losing on the second night of a back-to-back for the fifth time in as many games.
Finley, who came in averaging 14.4 points on 47 percent shooting in games filling in for the injured Manu Ginobili, continued his recent roll. He made 8-of-12 shots and scored nine points in the early run that gave the Spurs control.
Accustomed to starter's minutes from his tenure in Dallas, Finley also closed the first half with back-to-back jumpers to widen the advantage to 56-35 at intermission. The Spurs, who entered as the league's top shooting team, shot 65 percent (24-of-37) in the first 24 minutes and scored 12 straight points midway through the second quarter to turn the game into a rout.
"We lost the one last night," Finley said. "I think that kind of fired us up tonight to come out and play focused basketball for 48 minutes."
San Antonio continued to pad its lead in the second half. The Spurs used a 21-9 spurt to increase the margin to 86-54 with 2:09 remaining in the third period.
Parker, who posted his fourth double-double of the season, opened the burst with a jumper and scored five points. Tim Duncan added four and Brent Barry capped it with a 3-pointer.
"Tony (has) been a driven man all year," Popovich said. "He's playing All-Star basketball. The kid has improved every year and he adds to his game. He's playing defense. He's finding people on the court. He's scoring and I don't know what else I could ask of him."
Duncan, whom Popovich is looking to rest more often, scored 13 points in a season-low 22 minutes. Barry, who played a season-high 32 minutes, also chipped in 13.
"We got a good start," Duncan said. "Tony was incredible tonight. He really controlled the game and played well throughout and kind of dominated the game and we just kind of played off of him."
For the Knicks, it was another disaster. In the fifth game of a stretch that sees them playing 17 of 25 at home, New York dropped its fifth straight home game and ninth in 10 overall.
"I thought when we started this season, even though we were losing games, we were making progress," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "Now it seems like we're not making any progress."
Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 16 points. Stephon Marbury and rookie Channing Frye added 14 points apiece for the Knicks (6-18), who allowed a foe to shoot over 50 percent for the third time in the last five games.
"Everybody has to take blame in this," Marbury said. "It isn't just coach's fault whenever we lose."