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New York Runs Tired San Antonio Into The Ground; J.J. Barea Doesn’t Need Kevin Love To Bust Denver

In a game where New York’s interior defense built a wall around the paint and allowed San Antonio just 12 points, it was appropriate the Knicks’ bucket to cap the win came on the inside. J.R. Smith (20 points, five boards and zero turnovers) threw down a bananas alley-oop from Pablo Prigioni by catching the oop at the waist and flushing with a reverse in the Knicks’ 100-83 victory. It was a sloppy game overall at MSG, one where neither team had an advantage on the break and was only 42-40 at halftime. We’re pretty sure last week’s OKC-Houston game did that in a quarter. The Spurs were playing on a back-to-back and the Knicks definitely looked as though they’d lost their last two, but they needed just one late spurt to finally tire out San Antonio. New York dropped the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to go up 17 and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who each had 11 points on the night and hadn’t played since three minutes to go in the third quarter, never returned. That’s a Pop move to throw the strategic white flag. … This game had one of the most bizarre injuries you’ll ever see. Stephen Jackson missed a corner three, stepped back and fell over a waitress serving the front row fans. Specifically, serving NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. He turned his ankle and didn’t play again. That must have made Pop very happy. … Amar’e Stoudemire had two rebounds with 10 points, shooting 40 percent, in his 21 minutes as he returns from injury. What are appropriate benchmarks for STAT in his first month back to full-time duty? Shooting above his career averages of 53 percent (59 percent true shooting) is manageable. He may not be quite as agile now but that just means the Knicks should be looking to get him the ball in better positions instead of asking him to create. What about boards per game? … It’s always wise to assume Kobe is thinking two steps ahead and maybe, just maybe, has an ulterior motive when he praises an opponent. But whether he’s trying to incite some passion in his listless Laker teammates or genuinely passing along credit to the Clippers, Bryant called the LAC “definitely one of the top contenders.” … Well someone in Los Angeles hoops has a ring, anyway. Phil Jackson (he of 11) gave his longtime girlfriend and Lakers executive VP Jeanie Buss a huge engagement rock that she flashed to the world on Twitter. The pair has dated for more than a decade, according to Buss, and was reported to get engaged during Christmas. Congrats, you crazy kids. … Hit the jump to hear about an injury scare from Kevin Love. …

The Timberwolves got a nice win in Denver, 101-97, on the second night of a back-to-back but it didn’t come without a big worry. Kevin Love left in the second half with a sprained finger on his right hand and re-aggravated worries after he’d sat out most the first six weeks of the season with that hand broken. No worries, because J.J. Barea came to the rescue to cut down in surprisingly easy fashion the Denver team that had knocked off the Clippers’ 17-game streak. He scored 12 points (he had 17 overall) in the fourth quarter. … Oscar Robertson, Gary Payton, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash all have 15,000 points and 7,500 dimes in a career. Who joined that club Thursday night? The ageless point, Andre Miller. If you know his game you’ll know it took him longer to get to the 15K points than the assists plateau. Kidding aside it’s pretty cool for Miller, who’s always seemed like a guard who does it the right way without drawing attention to himself. Plus, he throws the best alley-oops in the NBA.  … The Gallinari vs. Love matchup featured some of the nastiest facial hair in the league, and not in a good way. Love is going full Grizzly Adams, but Gallo is cutting his scruff above the throat but below the jaw. Interesting look. … J.R. Smith got the biggest dunk of the night but Corey Brewer‘s layup on the break ahead of Dante Cunningham was probably the hardest bucket to make between either game. His bucket came off a steal and Cunningham rocked him at the rim for an and-one to go up six with 90 seconds left in the third quarter. Brewer (12 points) has really been playing well lately, and that bucket looked straight out of his Florida days. … A design firm asked fans to submit logos for the soon-to-be renamed New Orleans Pelicans, and a lot of them are pretty dope. That first look is sharp, and a few of them that mix in the trumpet (another classic NOLA theme) are really nice. The looks are growing on us. The Pelican name? Nah. … And the 12th annual Jordan Brand Classic, one of the premier high school all-star games, is moving to the Barclays Center this spring. It’ll be on April 13 this year after being held in Charlotte before. … We’re out like Kansas State.

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