Carmelo Anthony makes a smart pass, but Knicks just miss.
SAN ANTONIO – A couple of inches is all that separated the Knicks from a perfect road trip and their most important victory in three years.
Carmelo Anthony made the right play, passing up a contested shot and finding Jose Calderon open in the corner. But Calderon’s three-pointer was a long and the Knicks’ wild fourth quarter rally fell short.
The San Antonio Spurs ran their home unbeaten streak this season to 22 games by defeating the Knicks 100-99 after nearly blowing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 28 points including a dunk from an inbounds pass with 33.3 seconds remaining and the Knicks had a chance to win it when Tony Parker missed a pull-up jumper. The Knicks immediately got the ball to Anthony, who had missed 10 of 15 shots while being hounded all night by Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Rather than force a shot, Anthony found Calderon, who had made 2 of his first eight shots.
Anthony finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds and Robin Lopez added 12 points as the Knicks fell to 18-20. Leonard led the Spurs with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Manu Ginobili, LaMarcus Aldridge and Parker each added 16 while Tim Duncan scored seven points. The Spurs, who swept the season series, improved to 31-6.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard leads San Antonio with 19 points, 12 boards.
With Ginobili and Boris Diaw doing most of the damage early in the fourth, the Spurs built a 12-point lead but they wasted a chance to blow the game open by going scoreless for three minutes. The Knicks had closed to within eight before Leonard drew a shooting foul and Aldridge drove past Porzingis for a lay-up.
The Knicks, though, rallied again and closed to within 92-87 when Langston Galloway scored on a lay-up and was fouled. After Lopez forced Aldridge into a poor shot, Anthony hit a jumper to make it 92-89.
The Spurs used a time out to run a play for Ginobili that resulted in lay-up. Galloway then had his shot blocked but the ball found Arron Afflalo, whose corner three made cut the Spurs’ lead to 94-92 with 2:03 remaining. After Aldridge and Anthony traded baskets, Parker drove past Lopez with 1:08 to play.
Derek Fisher called time out and with Porzingis back on the floor, the Knicks were looking to throw a lob to the 7-foot-3 rookie or get Anthony isolated on Leonard. With neither option available, Afflalo took a contested three over Danny Green and sank it with 49.9 seconds left.
Parker answered with a floater and Fisher used another time out to get a lob for Porzingis, setting up a wild final 33 seconds.
Kristaps Porzingis adds 28 points, 11 rebounds for Knicks.
Porzingis scored 15 first-half points as the Knicks managed to build a nine-point lead despite Anthony shooting 1-for-9. However, Leonard and Aldridge brought San Antonio back as they combined for 13 second-quarter points to put the Spurs ahead 52-49.
“What they do is they play at their own pace of the game and they wait for you to mess up,” Anthony said. “They don’t go up, they don’t go down. They’re just very consistent, very steady, throughout the course of the game.
“They just take advantage of your mistakes. When you think that you’ve got them you can’t get too high. You’ve just got to play your game and just be consistent with that.”
Anthony struggled offensively in the Spurs’ 94-82 win on Nov. 2, missing 13 of 17 shots. Overall, the Knicks shot 36 percent and made just 4 of 13 3-pointers. On Friday, the Knicks had five 3-pointers in the first half.
“The first time we played them they really didn’t do anything to beat us. They let us beat ourselves,” Porzingis said. “You make mistakes, they’re so experienced, they’re a good team, that once you make a mistake they don’t forgive that.”
Porzingis scored nine in the third and Anthony added six as the Knicks regain the lead before the Spurs rallied behind Leonard to take a 70-74 lead into the final period.