The San Antonio Spurs sure looked like a team needing the All-Star break on Sunday night. The Spurs dropped their second game of the stupendous rodeo road trip in a lackadaisical performance against the New York Knicks.
Australian Patty Mills played 20 minutes for the Spurs, finishing with 8 points on 3 of 8 shooting from the field. Unfortunately for Mills, the biggest play of the game involved an uncharacteristic turnover from the Australian.
With 255 left in the game and the Spurs down 2 points, Mills put forth his improved defensive skills and expertly stole a pass destined for Courtney Lee. A clear basket lay in wait and Mills simply needed to dribble up to tie the game. Sounds simple in theory, right? But the basketball gods had other ideas.
Mills fumbled his fast break and allowed Lee to deny his clear path to the basket. With pressure mounting, Mills then doubled down on his error and attempted to force a pass to a slashing Danny Green, only managing to turn the basketball over. This led to a Knicks fast break and an open three for Carmelo Anthony. A tie game had been replaced with a five-point Knicks lead, just like that.
While Mills’ mistake may have ultimately doomed the Spurs, the defeat was not his fault. Rather, that one play was systematic of the Spurs’ performance today. San Antonio only shot 36% from the field and a frigid 20% from behind the arc. The Spurs offence lacked its trademark potency and Knicks made them pay.
Kawhi Leonard spoke to the media post game and reinforced that today’s performance was problematic from the outset.
“It didn’t really come down to the end of the game. It was the whole four quarters. We have to come in with the same energy. We have to make shots. We held them under 100 points but we only had 90.”
Despite all their errors, the Spurs were still within striking distance during the final minute, well until Anthony did this.
Mills has been struggling of late and he, just like his team, look ready for the week off. The Spurs must remain focused with two more road games on the docket before the break.
“The last stretch you have to stay mentally focused,” Leonard mentioned post-game. “We are on the road. It is going to be very important to go into tomorrow to bring our mindset of having energy going into the game.”