San Antonio at New York, Final Score: Knicks survive Spurs’ second-half comeback, 117-114

San Antonio at New York, Final Score: Knicks survive Spurs’ second-half comeback, 117-114

The San Antonio Spurs agonizingly came up short of a furious second-half comeback against the New York Knicks, 117-114, failing to find any way to contain Jalen Brunson. Although the youngsters put together some strong runs to make things interesting, they couldn’t generate enough light to make a shot to force overtime.

Keldon Johnson paced the Silver and Black with 26 points, seven boards and two assists, while Josh Richardson had 20 points and three inches from the paint. Jalen Brunson led the charge for New York, scoring a career-high 38 points along with seven rebounds and six assists. Julius Randle also contributed to the victory with 25 points, 13 boards and four blocks.

Observations Jalen Brunson missed the first game between these interconference opponents, but he made his presence felt early in this contest at Madison Square Garden. The fifth-year guard burst past Tre Jones for the game’s opening bucket and jumped over Jeremy Sochan before drilling a mid-range jumper that forced coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout with his team trailing 2-10. . Brunson never took his foot off the gas, torching the Spurs for a career-high 38 points with an array of beautiful footwork and dazzling dribble combinations. Julius Randle has been on an incredible hot streak in the seven games leading up to tonight, averaging 32.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists as he made an airtight case for his second career All-Star appearance. San Antonio got a taste of how difficult it is to stop the 28-year-old forward when he exploded for 41 points against them a week ago. But they did a much better job of beating him Wednesday night, holding him to 25 points on 9-of-26 (34.6%) shooting from the field and five turnovers. More scoring responsibilities fell on Keldon Johnson since Devin Vassell sat out this game to manage nagging knee pain, which meant the Knicks could focus more defensive attention on stopping the fourth-year combo offense. . Despite their efforts to shore up the interior, Keldon lowered his shoulder with a flurry of physical moves to the rim and reached the charity stripe six times in the first quarter. Johnson continued to act as a human battering ram throughout the game, attacking the basket with reckless abandon for more trips to the free throw line and a handful of layups and floaters. Stanley Johnson has probably seen more action than fans expected, appearing in every game for coach Gregg Popovich since San Antonio signed him in free agency three weeks ago. The veteran performer scored eight points off the bench in the second quarter, including a layup that gave the Spurs their first lead. His success in the Silver and Black has been surprising, especially considering he scored just seven points in 58 minutes at shortstop in the G League earlier this season. The Spurs have trailed by double digits in eight of their last eleven games, and they dug themselves into another significant hole in the opening frame in New York. Despite trailing by 13 points to the Knicks, San Antonio rallied back and entered the first half with a more manageable deficit. They went back and forth with New York in the second half, but ultimately fell to 0-23 when trailing by ten points this season. Zach Collins has been in constant trouble since returning from a fractured fibula that sidelined him in November. Only three players have committed more fouls during that span, and his penchant for physicality landed him another premature trip to the bench midway through the second quarter. Although he became a little more versatile on the defensive end, he made the most of his minutes on the other end of the court, scoring 16 points and dishing out a trifecta of assists without a single mistake or turnover to his name. Depth has been one of San Antonio’s greatest strengths. And with a second unit that scores more points than anyone in the league, their reserves often help keep them competitive. That was certainly the case tonight, as their bench contributed 61 of their 114 points in the Big Apple. Doug McDermott and Zach Collins each reached double figures, but no one was more important than Josh Richardson. The eighth-year swingman had 20 points and four assists from the pine and gave the Silver and Black a much-needed spark when they fell behind by a significant margin in the first half. Jeremy Sochan is fresh off his Western Conference Rookie of the Month nomination, so you’d think the power forward would have an extra pep in his step in the most famous basketball arena in the world. The 19-year-old Swiss Army Knife was all over the woodwork, yet he failed to score for the first time in his young NBA career. He was also on the wrong end of a five-second crunch time foul that gave the Knicks the ball back with 5.7 seconds left in regulation. Sochan hung his head walking down the tunnel after the loss, but hopefully this is a meaningful learning experience for him.

For the Knicks fan’s perspective, please visit The Post and the Toast.

The San Antonio Spurs return to the friendly confines of the AT&T Center on Friday for a meeting with the Detroit Pistons.

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