The Knicks picked up an historic win over the defending champion Spurs on Tuesday — the same Knicks who are at the bottom of the league-wide standings with just 14 wins on the season.
These were also the same Spurs that had looked better as of late, seemingly hitting their stride by coming into this one winning seven of their last eight games.
But something was amiss for San Antonio, who had its full complement of players available, and wasn’t resting any of its stars. Not surprisingly, Gregg Popovich was less than pleased, and ripped his team afterward.
“We didn’t respect the game, we didn’t respect our opponent,” said Popovich, whose Spurs led by as much as 13 in the third quarter. “It was a pathetic performance and I hope that every player is embarrassed. Not because ‘we are supposed to win the game’ but it is about how you play the game.” …
“I thought their movement and unselfishness was great,” Popovich said of the Knicks. “Their juice and competitiveness was better than ours. They respected the game. They got rewarded for it. So I am happy for them. It will help them get through the rest of the year.
“Not much else to say,” Popovich added. “It’s been a joy, have a good night.”
This win was actually more damaging to the Knicks than it was to the Spurs in the grand scheme of things, and may end up costing New York in terms of ending up with the best odds of landing the top pick in this summer’s draft via the league’s lottery process.
And, games like this can help the Spurs, because it gives Popovich a point of reference when trying to motivate his guys to finish with consistency for the remainder of the season.
But in the moment, Popovich was absolutely right.