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Knicks seek fourth straight win, face suddenly hot Spurs

Mar 27, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Garrett Temple (17) in the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The surging New York Knicks carry a three-game winning streak and plenty of momentum to San Antonio on Friday for a key late-season game with the Spurs.

But San Antonio has been playing better recently as well, and the Knicks can’t afford to take the Spurs, who are last in the Western Conference, lightly

The Knicks (44-28) head to the Alamo City after a dominating 145-101 win in Toronto on Wednesday. New York got balanced scoring in the win, and plenty of it. Miles McBride led the way by matching his career high of 29 points. Jalen Brunson added 26 points and Precious Achiuwa racked up 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Bojan Bogdanovic contributed 18 points Wednesday, Donte DiVincenzo had 16 points, Isaiah Hartenstein tallied 15, and Josh Hart finished with 10 assists, helping the Knicks win for the seventh time in their past eight games and sweep the season series from the Raptors.

“We created shots for each other, created advantages, trusted the pass,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said of his team’s 37 assists. “We got into a good rhythm, and then I thought our defense picked up in the second half. Everything matters, and so the challenge for us is to keep getting better.”

The 44-point margin of victory was the Knicks’ largest of the season.

New York’s recent surge has propelled it past the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers and into the third spot in the East. But there’s little room for error as the third-, fourth- and fifth-place teams in the conference are separated by just two games in the standings.

The Spurs (17-56) return home after a quick, but successful trip to Utah that produced a 118-111 win over the Jazz on Wednesday. Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 31 points while Victor Wembanyama added 19 in his return from a one-game absence because of an ankle injury.

Julian Champagnie, Jeremy Sochan and Malaki Branham added 17 points apiece as the Spurs won their second straight game.

“We have to rely on things like trusting our teammates, sharing the ball,” Wembanyama said afterward. “This is one of the major reasons we won the game.”

Vassell had his sixth game with at least 30 points this season and has emerged as likely the Spurs’ most valuable player outside Wembanyama.

“I’m just trying to be a leader out there on both ends of the floor,” Vassell said. “I just want to be that defensive anchor. I want to be somebody who is picking up and just being disruptive on the defensive end and offensively Coach puts me in a great position to get downhill, get to my spots. pick them apart.

“If they’re trapping me, I can hit the short roll or skip or whatever the pass is, and I’ve been knocking down shots.”

San Antonio has not won three consecutive games this season and still must capture four of its final nine games to surpass the franchise’s all-time worst record of 20-62 set in 1996-97.

The Knicks won the only other game between the teams this season, 126-105 at home Nov. 8.

–Field Level Media

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