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Knicks back at .500 after falling to Spurs for fifth straight loss – The Hamden Journal

Knicks back at .500 after falling to Spurs for fifth straight loss

SAN ANTONIO — The beauty of the NBA, multiple members of the Knicks said Thursday, is the immediate chance to expunge the bitter taste of a devastating defeat. 

Of course, such words only ring true when you are able to take advantage of the subsequent opportunity. 

With starters Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett sidelined for essentially the second straight game Thursday, the Knicks fell to 0-2 on this three-game Texas swing and suffered their fifth consecutive defeat overall following an eight-game winning streak. They have crashed back to the .500 mark for the season (18-18) following a 122-115 loss to the Spurs at AT&T Center. 

Julius Randle led the Knicks with a season-high 41 points, Immanuel Quickley posted a career-best 36, and dusted-off Evan Fournier scored 11 in 17 minutes off the bench in his return to the rotation for the first time since Nov. 13. 

One game after registering a career-high 33 points, however, Quentin Grimes shot 1-for-10 from the field and finished with nine points. 

Julius Randle reacts during the Knicks’ loss to the Spurs.
Getty Images

Keldon Johnson netted 30 points and Romeo Langford contributed 23 for the Spurs, who had lost five of their previous seven games and own the second-worst record (12-23) in the Western Conference. 

The Knicks trailed by as many as 17 in the third quarter and by 13 entering the fourth before Randle’s fifth of six 3-pointers cut the hole to nine with 8:07 remaining. But Langford’s layup off a Fournier turnover and a triple by Johnson extended the San Antonio lead to 108-94 with 6:33 left. 

Before the game, Derrick Rose said the Knicks relished “a chance to redeem ourselves” after flushing a nine-point lead with under 35 seconds to play before losing in overtime to the Mavericks, with Luka Doncic recording a 60-point triple double. 

“That’s it. You’ve got to bounce back,” Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s your basketball character — there are tough losses, but you’ve got to move past it. Games keep coming. 

“Sometimes you’re on the other side. You get a great win and the same thing, you can’t feel too good about it, just got to get ready for the next game.” 

The Knicks have lost five straight games.

Still, the absences of Barrett and Brunson deleted 39.9 points per game from the Knicks’ lineup, while Brunson also leads the team with an average of 6.6 assists. 

That duo and Randle had started every game together before Brunson first sat out Tuesday’s overtime loss in Dallas, with Barrett leaving that game less than two minutes into the first quarter with a lacerated finger. 

“Obviously, you don’t ever want to end a game like that, but everything had to go right for [the Mavericks] and wrong for us, and it did. But we’re onto a new day,” Randle said. “It’s a game at a time, I’m just focused on today’s game. We got more than enough guys capable of coming in and stepping up to do the job. So that’s all I’m worried about.” 

Immanuel Quickley dribbles during the Knicks' loss to the Spurs.
Immanuel Quickley dribbles during the Knicks’ loss to the Spurs.

Quickley scored 10 of the Knicks first 12 points, and Randle pumped in 11 in a row at one point for a 27-24 lead, but the Spurs closed the opening quarter on a 14-2 run for a nine-point advantage entering the second. 

Thibodeau used only eight players following Barrett’s early departure Tuesday night, but Fournier checked in with three minutes to go in the first quarter Wednesday, marking his first action in 23 games since his previous game action on Nov. 13. 

The 11-year veteran netted seven points during his first-half stint, including a 3-pointer, and Randle finished the half with 21, but the Knicks still trailed 64-53 at intermission. 

Quickley’s 3-pointer shaved the deficit to single digits early in the third, but the Spurs boosted it to 17 with three minutes remaining on consecutive 3s by Johnson before carrying a 92-79 lead into the final quarter.