WHAT IT MEANS: Mike Woodson got what he asked for Thursday night.
For the past week, Woodson has been imploring his team to play defense. The Knicks had given up at least 100 points in five of their past eight games -- all losses. But they clamped down on the red-hot Spurs on Thursday in a 100-83 win.
The Spurs were shooting 53.4 percent from the field and averaging 111.7 points per game in their past seven games -- all wins. They'd shot an eye-popping 47.5 percent from beyond the arc during that stretch. But New York, displaying the kind of defense that allowed them to get off to an 18-5 start, held San Antonio to 36.4 percent shooting.
With strong perimeter D and improved pick-and-roll coverage, the Knicks (22-10) limited the Spurs (26-9) to 9-for-34 shooting from 3-point range and just 12 paint points. The Spurs had just four points in the paint through three quarters, after scoring 56 in the paint in a win over the Bucks on Wednesday. San Antonio was playing its fourth game in five nights. The Knicks have beaten the Spurs twice this season.
NOT MUCH 'POP' FOR AMARE: Clearly, Amar'e Stoudemire is still working the rust off in his comeback from left knee surgery.
In his second game back, Stoudemire lacked explosion around the basket, which is understandable for a guy coming off knee surgery and playing his second game after a two-month absence.
The power forward scored 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting and had two rebounds in 20 minutes. He had his shot blocked three times, twice on one possession by Tiago Splitter.
Stoudemire entered to a loud ovation with 6:30 left in the first quarter, and converted on a baseline spin over Boris Diaw shortly after entering the game.
SHOWTIME FOR J.R.: J.R. Smith had one of the dunks of the year when he caught a Pablo Prigioni pass below his hip in midair and somehow finished it off with a one-handed reverse dunk. There aren't many people on the planet with the athleticism to pull off what Smith did midway through the fourth quarter.
Smith had another excellent floor game, finishing with 20 points on 9-for-17 shooting, with five rebounds and three assists.
Prigioni also had a strong game, finishing with four points, nine assists and three steals.
NOVAKAINE: Steve Novak put the nail in the coffin with three treys in the fourth quarter. His first made it 77-60. His second, about two minutes later, put the Knicks up 20. And he hit another right after Smith's highlight-reel dunk.
Novak finished with 15 points in 22 minutes. He hit five of his seven 3-point attempts.
Marcus Camby, in his first start of the season, had six rebounds and one assist in 16 minutes.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks hit the road for a one-game trip to Orlando -- Stoudemire's hometown -- on Saturday night.
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