(The Sports Xchange) – The New York Knicks ended a tumultuous week filled with off-the-court distractions by posting a spirited 94-90 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
With numerous Knicks alumni in the crowd at Madison Square Garden, New York (23-33) stopped a four-game losing streak in putting forth its finest defensive effort of the season, holding the Spurs to 36 percent shooting.
Carmelo Anthony poured in 25 points to pass Charles Barkley for 25th place on the all-time scoring list with 23,775 points. Anthony is the fifth-highest active scorer.
Anthony was the subject of bizarre tweets earlier in the week from Knicks president Phil Jackson as trade rumors continue to swirl around the veteran forward. Then on Wednesday, former forward Knick Charles Oakley was escorted out of Madison Square Garden and arrested and charged with assaulting security guards after allegedly verbally abusing Knicks owner James Dolan.
Except for a brief tie at 81-81, New York held the lead for the entire fourth quarter. Anthony scored 10 points in the final period.
“I think the trust in each other came out tonight,” said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who was critical of his team’s effort, especially the starters, this week. “You saw guys get up on the ball, and when they got beat, they rotated.”
Derrick Rose added 18 points and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Knicks, who finished 1-4 on the homestand and won for just the fourth time in the last 13 games.
New York’s Willy Hernangomez making only his second start at center this season, scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
“I think right from the start, (Hernangomez) has had a good understanding,” Hornacek said. “He moves to the right spots and gets to the right area. He’s a big body. It’s not easy to move him.”
Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs (41-13) with 36 points and added nine rebounds and four steals. He scored 30-plus points for the seventh consecutive game. LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and David Lee scored 10 points.
New York held the Spurs, the best 3-point shooting team in the league, to just 20.7 percent (6 of 29) from beyond the arc.
“I thought we were quick on the shots and a little contested,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They got into us good. They were a little physical. I just don’t think we played wisely in that regard.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)