Here are some key takeaways…
Nerlens Noel got off to a strong start for the Knicks, blocking a shot and scoring four early points in the first three minutes to get New York out to an early three-point lead. The Knicks defense was suffocating early, as the Spurs made just one of their first nine attempts. Meanwhile, Elfrid Payton got off to a rough start, picking up two fouls with a turnover and 0-of-2 shooting in his first seven minutes before heading to the bench in favor of Quickley.
The Knicks led 20-18 at the end of the first, as Julius Randle led the charge with 14 points. San Antonio shot just 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) from the floor.
– The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-2 run, with RJ Barrett hitting a three and Taj Gibson adding four points. But the Spurs answered with their own 10-0 run to take a one-point lead. The teams continued to trade the lead back and forth for the rest of the quarter, and it was the Knicks who went on an 8-0 run to end the quarter with a 46-43 lead.
Randle went cold, going scoreless in the quarter after 14 in the first, but Burks picked up the pace, scoring 14 points of his own in the quarter on 6-of-9 shooting.
-After a cold first half, the Spurs came out strong to start the third quarter, with DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray attacking early. Tom Thibodeau also picked up a technical foul for arguing a call within the first three minutes, as San Antonio jumped out to a seven-point advantage. The Spurs hit their first 12 shots of the quarter to take a 65-54 lead, prompting Thibodeau to take a timeout with 6:34 left in the third.
The third quarter belonged to San Antonio, as they led by as many as 17, but the Knicks gained some momentum back in the final minutes, as Barrett knocked down a three and then converted on a three-point play. Barrett scored 11 in the quarter as the Knicks went on a 15-2 run to end the period, with San Antonio up 77-73.
– Barrett hit another three to begin the fourth quarter, bringing the Knicks within one point. Burks then drilled a corner three to put the Knicks back on top as the team’s run stretch to 21-2. The Knicks pushed their lead as large as five, but San Antonio didn’t go away quietly, as DeRozan converted an and-one to tie the game at 90-all.
Burks was huge off the bench after missing 11 of the last 13 games, as he hit a huge three with under three minutes left to put the Knicks up by four at 96-92. The Knicks held their four-point lead into the final minute. With 10 seconds left, Bullock committed a foolish foul and Keldon Johnson converted the three-point play to make it a one-point Knicks lead. After Burks made both free throws, the Knicks elected to foul, as DeRozan made the first and then intentionally missed the second. He missed the rim, though, making it New York ball, and the Knicks held on for the four-point win.
-Burks led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Randle had 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Barrett added 24 points, including 19 in the second half.
The Knicks have just two regular-season games remaining. On Saturday, they’ll welcome the Charlotte Hornets to the Garden for a 1:00 p.m. tipoff.