The Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the New York Knicks at home on Sunday and a Carmelo Anthony-fueled effort helped see the Knicks to a 125-120 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Anthony led the Knicks with 36 points and 12 rebounds and with them passed OKC’s Kevin Durant to become the NBA’s leading scorer. It was a landmark performance for Anthony for more reasons than one; he has scored 50, 41, 40 and now 36 points in four April games, making him the first Knick since Bernard King in the 1984-85 season to have four straight games of 35+ points.
As a team, the Knicks have now been the victors of 12 games in a row, the third-longest streak in franchise history and the first time they have sustained one of this length in 13 years.
For Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook played a heck of a game, dropping 37 points, grabbing 11 boards and dishing out eight assists. He caught fire in the second half, and his effort went a long way in keeping the Thunder in this contest. Durant added 27 points as well.
With the loss, the Thunder’s 21-straight home victory record came to an end, and they fell one game behind San Antonio in the race for first place in the West. The Thunder have now lost just six games at home this season.
The Thunder started hot with a 16-5 run against the Knicks, and then became even more fortunate when Anthony went to the bench after recording two fouls in less than eight minutes. The Knicks rallied back from being down 21-14 however, thanks to a trio of big-time 3-pointers from Jason Kidd. They took the lead late in the first quarter, and never really relinquished it.
New York’s reserves came onto the court in the second quarter and started it with a 9-3 burst, and then Anthony returned, hit a left-wing jumper and a transition 3-pointer as a part of a 7-0 run that extended their lead to 12 points. Tyson Chandler put the exclamation point on the run, slamming down a two-handed dunk from J.R. Smith’s alley-oop to make it 65-53 in the final minute of the half. Oklahoma City was able to cut that lead a little before time ran out, as they got the final three points of the half on free throws.
After the break, Westbrook had a pair of steals to bring about a quick string of six straight Thunder points, and Oklahoma City was able to get within one point of New York lead five different times before Anthony hit another shot beyond the arc and followed that up by putting back his own missed shot for another two points.
The Knicks kept enough distance in the end to secure a five-point victory.
It was a thrilling clash between these two teams, and a potential preview of what’s to come in this year’s NBA Playoffs, which commence Apr. 20.
Oklahoma City now posts a 56-21 record, and will face the Utah Jazz next on Tues., Apr. 9.