SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Instead of watching their season-opening winning streak come to a messy end, the New York Knicks served notice that they can’t be counted out in the fourth quarter.
Raymond Felton scored 25 points and New York stayed undefeated by rallying late to beat the San Antonio Spurs 104-100 on Thursday night.
Trailing by 12 with 7 minutes left in the game, the Knicks (6-0) closed on a 22-11 run to remain the NBA’s only unbeaten team.
“It shows me that this team is for real,” New York coach Mike Woodson said. “We beat a great team tonight — a well-coached team. It’s the first time I’ve ever won in San Antonio, so I feel pretty good about that. It’s tough to win here.”
J.R. Smith added 17 points, Jason Kidd had 14 and Tyson Chandler 13 for the Knicks, who snapped a nine-game skid in San Antonio. Felton, Smith and Kidd alone outscored the Spurs 26-25 in the fourth.
Tony Parker led San Antonio (7-2) with 19 points and 12 assists. Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
San Antonio grabbed its largest lead at 89-77 with 7:14 remaining when Tiago Splitter’s free throw completed a three-point play. That capped a 13-point run by Splitter in the fourth after he failed to score while playing just a few minutes through the first three periods.
“He had some great minutes in there,” Duncan said. “He got himself rolling there for a little while and kind of got us on the board.”
Woodson called a timeout before Splitter shot the free throw, and the chaos that ensued was exactly what the Knicks needed.
“I called one timeout, and it was kind of disarray in the timeout,” Woodson said. “I was screaming and they were screaming, but we were still in the game.”
Kidd then sparked the rally with a pair of 3-pointers that pulled the Knicks to 89-85 with 5:49 remaining.
“He does it every single time,” Chandler said. “I said it last game, whether it is a steal or a 3-pointer or something (else), he seems to always get it done.”
Smith and Kidd hit consecutive 3s to give the Knicks a 100-95 lead with a minute left.
San Antonio missed seven of its last nine shots and had two turnovers in the final 2 minutes. The Spurs had won 18 of 19 regular-season games against New York.
The late defensive push offset an uncharacteristic start by the Knicks.
After holding their first five opponents to 87.8 points per game, the Knicks allowed the Spurs to set a quick tone when Danny Green opened with consecutive backdoor layups off assists from Parker and Duncan.
The Knicks kept pace behind Felton, who had nine points and two assists in the opening period while shooting 3 for 5 from the field. Felton’s first 3-pointer gave the Knicks a 29-24 lead with 2 minutes left in the first period.
Steve Novak and Rasheed Wallace hit back-to-back 3s to extend New York’s lead to 45-38 with 7:21 left in the first half. New York opened 6 for 7 on 3s.
DeJuan Blair smiled at Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and gave him a double fist bump before taking the court for his first start of the season. The move paid off. Blair had two points and an assist while denying Carmelo Anthony the ball defensively and hounding the Knicks All-Star into missing his only attempt in the opening 8 minutes.
Anthony appeared frustrated by the lack of touches, shaking his head and laughing when the Knicks rotated the ball away from him late in the second quarter.
Anthony got aggressive after that possession, taking four shots in the final 3 minutes of the first half. He was blocked twice by Duncan under the basket. The first block resulted in Anthony’s own follow-up basket and the second led to a 3-pointer by Green with 0.8 seconds that gave the Spurs a 57-55 lead at halftime.
Anthony finished with nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field.
“There was a point in the game where I huddled everybody up and said use me as a decoy. And it worked out there,” Anthony said. “Pop did a great job of not even double-teaming me, but triple-teaming me; every time I touched the ball, making me see three guys.”
NOTES: Spurs guard Gary Neal missed the game after cutting his right index finger while lifting his luggage before Tuesday night’s game against the Lakers. Neal was able to play 8 minutes in San Antonio’s 84-82 win over Los Angeles, but the cut grew worse. … Including the playoffs, San Antonio has won 23 of 26 games at home. … Duncan had his 736th career double-double, extending his lead among active players.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.