PREVIEW: Surprising New York Knicks bring 3-game win streak to San Antonio

Feb 27, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks celebrates after drawing the foul late in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks, playing their best basketball of the season and arguably in years, look to continue their winning ways when they square off against the host San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.

The game is the second of a back-to-back set against visitors from New York City for the Spurs, who fell to the Brooklyn Nets 124-113 in overtime on Monday.

The Knicks head to San Antonio after a 109-90 road victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. New York (18-17) has won three straight games and seven of its past nine to climb above the .500 mark after 35 games for just the third time in the past 20 years.

“The first unit is really finding some chemistry together and I think they’re reading the game well,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said after the win against Detroit. “Offensively, when we share the ball, we’re hard to guard.”

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All-Star Julius Randle led the Knicks with 25 points and added eight rebounds and six assists on Sunday. RJ Barrett scored 21 points for New York.

Three other New York players finished with double-figure point totals, but the most impressive work against the Pistons was done on the defensive end, where the Knicks limited Detroit to 38.4 percent shooting (28 of 73).

“I don’t want us looking ahead, and I don’t want us looking behind and at what happened in the past,” Thibodeau said. “Our focus has to be exactly on what’s in front of us and that’s each day, each game, each practice. Be ready to keep improving. We got a young team. We have a team that can grow.”

The Spurs played well against Brooklyn on Monday, scoring the final 10 points of regulation over the last two minutes to send the game to an extra period.

Dejounte Murray’s scrambling jumper at the buzzer completed the comeback, but San Antonio ran out of gas getting back into the game and fell flat in overtime. Brooklyn scored the first eight points in the extra session and never looked back as the Spurs lost for the second time in three games after being forced to postpone four games because of COVID-19.

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“I thought they were great, really worked hard,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of about his players after the Monday defeat. “You know they’ve dug down deep all year, they never give in, and tonight was another good example.”

DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 22 points and 11 assists in the loss. Murray and Lonnie Walker IV scored 19 each, Jakob Poeltl and Patty Mills hit for 14 apiece and Trey Lyles scored 10. Poeltl grabbed 12 rebounds to pace the Spurs.

Walker sank a career-high five 3-pointers.

“Lonnie’s playing pretty confidently,” Popovich said. “He’s learning how to play the game, is understanding what’s going on and being consistent. He’s doing all those things better.”

San Antonio’s Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Rudy Gay, Devin Vassell and Quinndary Weatherspoon were held out for the third straight game because of health and safety protocols. Of those five players, Johnson is the most likely to see the court on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media