SAN ANTONIO - The Knicks started off the new year with Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup and Iman Shumpert back from a season-long funk, and they collectively played like a team that is tired of losing.
They defended hard, played well offensively and made plays down the stretch to secure by far their best win of the season, a 105-101 victory over the defending Western Conference champion Spurs on their home court.
It was a great way for the Knicks to kick off 2014 because they looked a little like the team they were last season.
Shumpert played a brilliant game on both ends and was all over the court, helping the Knicks to only their 10th win in 31 games. He shot 10-for-13 -- including 6-for-8 from three-point range -- and scored a career-high 27 points, including five in the final 39.1 seconds. He also held Spurs point guard Tony Parker to 12 points.
"He saved us," Anthony said. "He saved the day, man. He was back to the old Shump that we fell in love with. Just his effort just boosted everybody's confidence, boosted his confidence and helped us win the game."
Anthony, who returned after missing three games with a sprained ankle, had 27 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. But he was limping at the end, having tweaked his ankle on the last possession of the game after getting kicked by Manu Ginobili. Anthony fell and grabbed the ankle but stayed in the game. He said he plans to play Friday night in Houston, depending on how he feels.
Marco Bellinelli shot 12-for-16 and had 32 points for the Spurs (25-8). Ginobili and Tim Duncan were quiet, totaling 20 points.
The Knicks had been waiting for Shumpert to break out the way he did Thursday night. The subject of trade rumors all season, he hadn't been effective offensively -- his previous season high was 16 points -- or as stingy defensively as he was in his first two seasons.
"Iman was big tonight, probably the best game in a Knicks uniform," Mike Woodson said.
With the score tied at 98, Beno Udrih lost the ball and dived at it, and a scramble ensued. Shumpert tracked it down in the backcourt, gave it to J.R. Smith and raced ahead. Smith then fed Shumpert for a corner three-pointer with 39.1 seconds left.
That lead vanished 2.1 seconds later as Bellinelli hit his sixth three-pointer of the game.
Out of a timeout, Anthony couldn't connect on a corner three-pointer, but Shumpert outjumped everyone for the rebound and tipped it in with 23.4 seconds left, putting the Knicks up 103-101. "Those were all winning plays," Woodson said.
"I've always done that throughout my career," Shumpert said. "I just try to play hard. That's the one thing that even if everything is going wrong, you can still run hard, chase somebody down, get a block, get a steal, get a loose ball, get an offensive rebound."
But the Knicks still needed a stop. Bellinelli got a good look at a three-pointer but missed it with 14.9 seconds left, and after the ball was tapped around, Smith came up with it. Anthony was fouled and made the free throws that put the game away.
"We kind of came together as a group," Woodson said. "This is kind of how we played last season. It didn't matter who scored the ball, but defensively I thought we were solid from the beginning to the end, especially down the stretch. When we had to get stops, we made good defensive plays. I think San Antonio is going to be right there when it counts. For our ballclub to come in here and get a win was a nice win for our team."