Knicks takeaways from Thursday’s 122-115 loss to the Spurs, including a disappointing defensive performance

San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) drives to the basket against New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first half at AT&T Center
San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) drives to the basket against New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first half at AT&T Center / Scott Wachter - USA TODAY Sports

The short-handed Knicks saw their losing streak pushed to five games as they were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs 122-115 on Thursday night.

Here are some takeaways...

- With Jalen Brunson (hip) and RJ Barrett (hand) out, Tom Thibodeau turned to Miles "Deuce" McBride to make his first start of the season. He joined Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson in the starting five.

- Quickley and Randle got the Knicks going on the offensive end, scoring 18 of the team's first 20 points. After playing 51 minutes last game, Quickley started 4-for-4 from the field. Randle then went on a run of his own, knocking down four straight baskets.

- With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Evan Fournier made his first appearance since Nov. 13.

The Knicks defense struggled a bit in the first quarter. San Antonio out-rebounded New York 15-7 and scored 24 of their points came from inside the paint. A 14-3 Spurs run, capped off by a Josh Richardson buzzer-beater three, left the Knicks down nine, 38-29, after one.

- The Spurs picked up where they left off in the second quarter, as a Keldon Johnson lay-in plus the foul shot and a Tre Jones three, pushed the lead to as much as 14.

Fournier contributed seven points in the second quarter, the last of which was a three that helped spark a run. Two Quickley free throws got the lead back down to six, but the Knicks were still struggling on the defensive end.

Heading into the break, San Antonio held onto a 64-53 lead. The Spurs shot 55 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Knicks 25-16 in the first half. The Knicks struggled to receive any second-chance points, as they reeled in just three offensive rebounds.

Randle led all scorers with 21 points, including three 3s and six free throws. Quickley and Johnson were the next highest with 11 points, and Romeo Langford contributed 10 points for San Antonio. Grimes made six free throws, but was 0 for 4 from the field.

- After struggling from 3-point land in the first half, the Knicks hit their first three triples to open up the third quarter, cutting the lead back down to nine. However, the Spurs responded again, and pushed it to their largest lead of the night (17).

The Knicks were not only getting outscored, but they were getting outworked and outhustled all night long. As both Mike Breen and Alan Hahn said on the MSG broadcast numerous times, it simply seemed like the Spurs just wanted it more.

Despite that, New York kept the door open just a crack, getting the lead down to 13 heading into the final frame.

The Spurs had a but of a flurry to open the fourth, but their fourth quarter struggles quickly continued. A Randle 3 got him up to 35 points and brought the lead back down to single digits (nine).

After Gregg Popovich called a timeout, San Antonio responded with a little run of their own. The Knicks showed some fight down the stretch, getting the lead back down to as much as seven, but the Spurs ultimately proved to be too much.

New York was defeated 122-115, for their fifth straight loss, bringing their record to 18-18.

Randle was outstanding on the offensive end, putting up a 41 point, 11 rebound double-double. Quickley tied his career-high with 36 points and Fournier returned to the court with 11 points in 17 minutes.

For San Antonio, Johnson had 30 points and Langford had a career-high 23 points. Center Jakob Poeltl reeled in 12 rebounds to go along with nine points.

Highlights

What's next

The Knicks look to get back on track and close out 2022 on a high-note as they take on the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at 7 p.m.