Spurs survive Knicks' last shot to improve to 22-0 at home
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs got the test they were expecting all season at home, and it almost proved too much for them to overcome.
Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and 12 rebounds and the San Antonio Spurs held off Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks 100-99 on Friday night to remain unbeaten at home.
San Antonio won its franchise-record 22nd straight home game to open the season and tied the franchise's best start after 38 games at 32-6. But after winning their past three home games by a 25-point average, the Spurs escaped when Jose Calderon's 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
"I was kind of enjoying (the blowouts)," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said. "It's not bad to win games like that. Nothing is easy in the NBA, but we knew in facing the Knicks that they were playing great, feeling good about themselves. We had to play much better to get this win. And I think we did."
Porzingis had 28 points and 11 rebounds but was on the bench when the Knicks started a 14-4 run to pull within 96-94 with 1:27 remaining.
New York's Arron Afflalo hit his second 3-pointer in the final 2 minutes to make it 98-97 Spurs. After Tony Parker's layup for San Antonio, Porzingis threw down an alley-oop dunk.
After rebounding Parker's missed 20-foot jumper with 15.9 seconds remaining, Langston Galloway took the ball up court to set up Calderon's miss after seeing New York coach Derek Fisher did not want to call a timeout.
"I thought it was best to allow the game to finish up as it was going," Fisher said. "Their defense wasn't really set. Everybody was trying to scramble to figure out how they matched up. We made a good basketball play. We got a good shooter an open look, and it just didn't go in."
Anthony had 20 points and 12 rebounds but passed up the final shot after getting Ginobili to help defensively off Calderon. But Calderon missed the 3-pointer from the left corner ahead of a charging Ginobili to end the game and snap New York's three-game winning streak.
"At the end we have to play better defense," Parker said. "That's a good look that we gave away. Calderon is a good shooter. It looked good, I thought it was going in."
Aldridge, Parker and Ginobili each had 16 points for San Antonio, which was won seven straight.
PORZINGIS' BIG GAME
The Spurs were bothered by the length of the Knicks' starting frontcourt, especially Porzingis.
The 7-foot-3 rookie was 11 for 21 from the field while being defended primarily by LaMarcus Aldridge.
"I was making shots and they were giving me the ball," Porzingis said. "They wanted me to be aggressive and that's what I tried to do, help the team. Today the shots were falling for me."
Porzingis opened the game with a 3-pointer over Aldridge's outstretched reach. He later drove past the speedy Patty Mills for a short hook that he missed only to follow with a two-handed dunk.
Porzingis also was 3 for 7 on 3-pointers.
BETTER DOWN LOW
The Spurs did outscore the Knicks 60-38 in the paint.
"They are a team that always is driving, dropping off," Porzingis said. "They have a lot of post ups for Aldridge and Duncan those are two great players. It was really hard to stop those guys, but even with them scoring in the paint we were able to be in the game."
Popovich had his usual fun with the media following the game.
When asked how good Parker was in the final minutes, Popovich said "he was good."
When asked if he liked what he saw out of a smaller lineup, he responded "of course I liked it."
But Popovich saved his best for last when asked what he learned from such a close game.
"I love you man," Popovich said after shaking his head. "Any other incisive, deep questions that make my mind go vertiginous."
Popovich smiled when a reporter asked him to spell vertiginous, which is the effect of being dizzy.
"None of you all even know what that means," Popovich said. "Don't even try, it might explode your head."
Knicks: Porzingis' career high is 29 points against Charlotte on Nov. 17. He has 14 double-doubles this season and has scored in double figures in 28 games, including 18 of his past 24. ... Forward Cleanthony Early missed the game with an injured right knee. Early has played in just 10 games this season. He was inactive for 20 games and did not play in four others.
Spurs: San Antonio's best start in franchise history came in 2011 when it opened 37-6. ... The Chicago Bulls have the longest home winning streak in NBA history, capturing 44 straight from March 1995 to April 1996.
Knicks: Host Milwaukee on Sunday night.
Spurs: At Brooklyn on Monday night.