Derek Fisher wanted his players to take a good look at how the Spurs execute and play together, and dream of becoming them some day. But Tuesday night, the Knicks were better than the reigning NBA champs.
The Knicks stunned San Antonio and enjoyed their best win in an otherwise miserable season. They outlasted, out-executed and out-battled the Spurs, and won 104-100 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.
The outcome was even more impressive and unexpected considering the Knicks (14-53) just returned from a five-game Western road trip Monday, and they had to erase a 13-point third-quarter deficit to earn the surprising win. "They have this inside of them," Fisher said. "They're capable of doing this on more nights than we have. It feels great more for them than anything because it's not easy to keep coming back to a situation where things just don't seem to be going right."
The Knicks were led by three players who weren't with them at the start of the season, including one who wasn't in the league.
Undrafted rookie guard Langston Galloway scored 22 points. Alexey Shved, on his third team this season, finished with 21 points and had a steal and the game-icing free throws in the closing seconds of OT.
Journeyman Lou Amundson, who is with his 10th NBA team, added 12 points and outmuscled Tim Duncan for a career-high 17 rebounds. Amundson tied the game in regulation with a layup with 5.5 seconds left.
"It was a special night for me," Amundson said.
It wasn't for the Spurs (41-25). Coach Gregg Popovich praised the Knicks but used the word "pathetic" to describe his team.
"We didn't respect the game, we didn't respect our opponent," Popovich said. "It was a pathetic performance and I hope that every player is embarrassed."
Tony Parker had 21 points and Duncan 17 points.
Since Fisher became the Knicks coach, he has preached having a team-first attitude and believes the Spurs' model is the one they should follow.
"I think they're bringing some cool back to selfless basketball," Fisher said. "Those are the things we're trying to instill in our guys. We won't be the Spurs. We'll be the Knicks. But that's kind of who we want to become: a selfless team that's all about the team."
The Spurs faltered down the stretch against the more determined Knicks.
Two Shved foul shots with 1:44 remaining gave the Knicks a 100-99 lead in overtime. It stayed that way until Jason Smith's free throw with 16.1 seconds left put the Knicks up two.
With a chance to tie, Duncan shot 1-for-2 from the line with nine seconds left. Amundson rebounded and was fouled, and he too shot 1-for-2 with eight seconds to go.
The Knicks needed a stop to seal it and Shved slapped away Duncan's entry pass to Kahwi Leonard and came up with the steal. Shved iced the game with two foul shots with 3.2 seconds left. "It's a special win for the team," Shved said.
Fisher added, "I do think it symbolizes that we are growing, that we are moving in a positive direction. I don't know if we would have been capable of this several weeks ago, a few months ago. I don't know if our makeup was ready to do this."
Notes & quotes: Jose Calderon, who missed his 11th straight game because of a sore left Achilles, was re-evaluated by the doctors . . . Tim Hardaway Jr. (sprained right wrist) and Cleanthony Early (sprained left ankle) didn't play.