|San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, right, and Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, defend against New York Knicks' Josh Harrellson during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)|
Parker, Spurs hand reeling Knicks another loss
SAN ANTONIO—Tony Parker scored 32 points and the San Antonio Spurs dealt the sliding New York Knicks a third consecutive loss, 118-105 on Wednesday night, which doesn't figure to ease the mounting frustrations of Carmelo Anthony and teammates.
Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili added 17 points apiece in Ginobili's second game back after missing two weeks with a strained stomach muscle. Like the Knicks, the Spurs are finally at full strength again, but are doing a far better job of blending rotations and fitting all their pieces together.
Anthony led New York with 27 points.
The Knicks have lost six of nine. They bear little resemblance to their Jeremy Lin-inspired resurgence before the All-Star break, and booting Landry Fields from the starting lineup before the game didn't help much.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said relegating Fields to the bench wasn't a demotion but simply a stab at trying to find combinations that work. The change came a night after the Knicks trailed by as many as 19 at Dallas, where Anthony afterward admitted having trouble finding his new role in the offense.
Lin came out of nowhere last month and delivered the Knicks the playmaking point guard they craved. But New York's transition has been anything but seamless since Anthony returned Feb. 20 after missing seven games, mostly because of a groin injury.
The Knicks are 2-5 with Anthony back in the lineup. D'Antoni said before the game that Anthony needs to be New York's leading scorer and said he understood the frustration of his star.
"You have to work through. But there's no reason why it can't co-exist," D'Antoni said. "There's no reason why everybody shouldn't do well. We just got to find the right balance of everybody getting into their spots."
Anthony had as many field goals in the first 6 minutes Wednesday night -- two 3-pointers -- than he did in a lethargic, unfocused performance the night before in Dallas. He was 12 of 24 from the floor and finished with four times as many points as he did against the Mavericks.
Lin shot 7 of 15 and had four assists. Amare Stoudemire had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Gary Neal scored 12 points and found his way back into the starting lineup as the Spurs ease Ginobili back into playing shape. Ginobil played 25 minutes, shooting 7 of 10 from the floor and adding six assists.
DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter added 10 points apiece for the Spurs. It was a convincing win for San Antonio, which had lost two of its last three at home after returning from the winningest nine-game road trip in NBA history, when the Spurs went 8-1 and quietly climbed to second in the West.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't stick around to see the end, getting ejected at the end of the third quarter following a heated exchange with officials over foul calls.
A scary moment came in the second quarter when Spurs point guard T.J. Ford lay on the floor for more than three minutes. The Spurs said the veteran received a stinger after getting elbowed in his back, and Ford appeared wobbly while being helped off the court and back into the tunnel. He didn't return to the game.
Ford missed the entire 2004-05 season because of a spinal cord injury, and the Spurs took the unusual step of noting that Ford was "neurologically intact" on a midgame injury report. It was not immediately clear how much time the Spurs might be without their backup point guard, who has played in just 14 games all season because of other injuries.
Notes: Knicks F Jared Jefferies (sore foot) didn't play and is also expected to miss Friday's game against Milwaukee...Don't expect the Spurs to make any surprise trades before the March 15 deadline. Popovich joked before Wednesday's game that he'll just let the phone ring his office on the eve of the deadline. "We're not doing anything anyway," Popovich imagined telling his staff. "Don't answer it."