Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the New York Knicks salvaged the finale of a tumultuous five-game homestand by beating the San Antonio Spurs, 94-90, on Sunday.
With Latrell Sprewell and a number of other former Knicks in attendance two days after Charles Oakley was banned, the current team pulled out a defensive performance from its past, limiting the Spurs to 36% shooting.
That came just two nights after the Knicks yielded 131 points in a dismal defensive performance against Denver, which came after losses to Cleveland and both Los Angeles teams to start the homestand.
Kawhi Leonard had 36 points for the Spurs (41-13), who had their two-game win streak snapped and failed in their first attempt to secure what would have been an NBA-record 20th consecutive winning season.
The Knicks didn’t let the Spurs reach 70 points until less than eight minutes remained. Then Anthony provided offense when they needed it while clinging to a two-point lead, making consecutive baskets to push the Knicks’ lead 92-86 with 33 seconds left.
“That’s great to watch. That’s the right way to play basketball,” Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Anthony’s relationship with Phil Jackson and resulting trade rumors were a constant throughout the homestand, though the fallout from Oakley’s arrest after an altercation with security guards last Wednesday became the bigger story.
“They want us to compete. I understand that,” Anthony said. “Win, lose or draw they want us to go out there and compete on a nightly basis and if we’d have lost this game today, this would have been a game where I can say we competed and the effort was there and everything was there.”
at Minnesota 117, Chicago 89: Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 to help the Timberwolves beat the severely short-handed Bulls, who were without Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Nikola Mirotic because of injuries as well as Paul Zipser, who was ill.
Ricky Rubio had 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds for Minnesota, which shot 54% to help Coach Tom Thibodeau sweep the season series against his former team. Gorgui Dieng added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Detroit 102, at Toronto 101: Tobias Harris had 24 points off the bench, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 21, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.2 seconds left and the Detroit Pistons overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 102-101 on Sunday night.
Andre Drummond had 10 points and 18 rebounds for his 36th double-double of the season as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid in Toronto.
at Sacramento 105, New Orleans 99: DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the New Orleans Pelicans 105-99 on Sunday night for their third straight victory.
The Kings assumed the lead late in the third quarter and never relinquished it in winning for the fourth time in five games. The Kings have won three straight games only one other time this season.