Studs and Duds: Knicks defeat Spurs, spoil Wembanyama’s Garden debut

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) controls the ball against New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) and guard Immanuel Quickley (5) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A star-studded night in Madison Square Garden saw the New York Knicks dismantle the San Antonio Spurs to improve their record to .500. New York has a big three of their own in Randle, Barrett, and Brunson and they looked the part, combining for 72 of the Knicks’ 126-point barrage.

The Spurs came into the Mecca with high expectations for No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama, but the Knicks’ depth and cohesion were too much for a young San Antonio squad. New York came out on top with a dominant 126–105 win.

Studs: Knicks shot with efficiency out the gate

The Knicks jumped out of the gate with excellent pacing in the contest. An early five-made threes saw the tone set, and the Spurs were doing their best to catch up all game.

Studs: The frontcourt contained Victor Wembanyama

Shooting above 50 percent, the Knicks weren’t only shooting threes but controlling the paint and containing Wemby as well. The tone set by New York’s starting frontcourt of Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle took no time to show Wemby that the Garden is bigger than it seems.

Randle tallied 23 points and 16 rebounds and Robinson continued to fuel his defensive player of the year argument, adding five more offensive rebounds to his streak of dominance on the boards. The stellar showing on defense held Wembanyama without a field goal until near the end of the third quarter. The Knicks possess one of the deepest teams in the NBA and had no issues exploiting the weaknesses of San Antonio. 

Studs: The RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley breakout campaigns continue

RJ Barrett continued his string of stellar performances, notching 24 points and tied for a team-high six assists in the contest. Running mate Immanuel Quickley notched 19 points off the bench, and the Knicks’ offensive engines ignited a 30-point lead over San Antonio. 

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Studs: Knicks deploy motion offense

The motion element the Knicks have been ingratiating their offense in has generated brilliant offense compared to the iso-level style Knicks faithful have become accustomed to. As a team, New York had 28 assists and only three turnovers in the contest, tying the record for the least turnovers in franchise history. 

Duds: Playing too comfortably with the lead

The Knicks, with a comfortable lead throughout, saw themselves sleepwalking on the defensive end at times. A 17-7 run by the Spurs cut the lead down to 14. Thankfully the heroics of Jalen Brunson were consistent throughout. Three straight three-pointers before the end of the first half saw Brunson finish the game with 25 points. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Spurs

In eight games, the Knicks are bolstering the second-best defensive rating in the NBA. The great defense on the part of Mitchell Robinson at the helm also has New York ranking the best in rebound average in the entire NBA.

The improvement in points per game as a team will be a work in progress but nothing of concern as it is still early in the year. The Knicks continue their home stand against the Charlotte Hornets this Sunday.