SAN ANTONIO (AP)Julius Randle bullied San Antonio, but the Spurs never backed down.
Keldon Johnson scored 30 points and the Spurs overcame a season-high 41 from Randle to beat New York 122-115 on Thursday night, handing the Knicks their fifth straight loss.
”One of the key points to winning was just being physical because they are a really physical team,” San Antonio guard Romeo Langford said. ”You’ve to praise Keldon, Stanley (Johnson) and Jeremy (Sochan) for carrying the load against Randle tonight. I felt like they were very physical, they were fouling, but at least they weren’t making it easy for him. That just carried over for everybody else to be physical.”
Langford added a career-high 23 points for the Spurs, who were without injured starter Devin Vassell. Tre Jones added 13 points and Sochan had 12.
Immanuel Quickley had a career-high 36 points for the Knicks while starting in place of injured point guard Jalen Brunson.
”We didn’t play well,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”The numbers, when you don’t win, don’t mean anything to me.”
New York only led briefly after blowing a nine-point lead with 33 seconds left in regulation in an overtime loss to Luka Doncic and Dallas on Tuesday.
San Antonio maintained its lead by outscoring New York 62-42 in the paint and shooting 51% from the field.
Johnson shot 11 for 21 and had two blocked shots while playing 32 minutes despite getting into early foul trouble. He sat the rest of the first quarter after picking up two fouls in the opening two minutes.
”A lot of guys, if they get two quick ones, they are out for the game no matter what,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ”They come in and they’re not aggressive and it just kind of plays with their head. He showed some good maturity by staying in it and playing at both ends of the court even though he had those quick fouls.”
Randle’s 3-pointer midway through the first quarter gave the Knicks their largest lead of the game at 23-18. The Spurs would reclaim the lead 2 1/2 minutes later and would never trail again.
”We scored 115 points, that’s enough,” Thibodeau said. ”We talk about what goes into winning: defense, rebounding and low turnovers. That puts you in position to win. Everyone is capable of playing defense, everyone is capable of rebounding, everyone is capable of taking care of the ball. So, when you’re down players, your margin of error is smaller, but the intensity, if you do those other things, if we do those things as a team, we can beat anybody.”
After Doug McDermott made a 3-pointer, Johnson hit consecutive 3s to give the Spurs their largest lead at 90-73 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
San Antonio finished 11 for 28 on 3-pointers.
Knicks: Randle was kneed in the stomach by Mitchell Robinson in the fourth quarter as the New York teammates battled for a rebound. Randle remained on the court for about a minute before rising and remaining in the game. . New York concludes a three-game trip to Texas on Saturday in Houston. . Brunson missed his second straight game with a sore right hip.
Spurs: Langford’s previous career high was 19 points against Miami on Dec. 10. Langford entered Thursday averaging a career-best 5.9 points, the highest of his four-year career.
Popovich promised there would not be a repeat of Doncic’s historic outing against the Knicks when San Antonio hosts Dallas on New Year’s Eve.
Well, he jokingly assured it wouldn’t happen again.
Doncic had 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists as Dallas rallied to beat New York 126-121 in overtime Tuesday.
”We are holding Luka under 50,” Popovich said, playfully slapping his palm on the table. ”Quote.”
Popovich normally dismisses any questions about the performance of another team or individual, but he praised the Mavericks guard.
”In our lives, there’s always something that (makes) you say, `I can’t believe that happened,”’ Popovich said. ”That was one of them for sure. It was incredible. I was thinking about it, Doncic had 60 (points), 20 (21 rebounds) and 10 (assists), so 90. Has anyone ever had 90 in a stat like that?”
Knicks: At Houston on Saturday.
Spurs: Host Dallas on Saturday.
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