On Thursday Night, at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks (37-22) were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder (45-16) 95-94. Box Score
J.R. Smith led the Knicks in scoring with 36 points on 14-28 shooting from the field which included going 6-13 from downtown. He also added three rebounds, three assists and three steals. He missed the game winning shot at the buzzer.
Amar’e Stoudemire scored 16 points on 5-16 shooting and had eight rebounds in which six of them were offensive.
Raymond Felton scored 16 points on 6-16 shooting from the floor. He was 1-8 from three and had three assists.
Kevin Durant scored 34 points on 9-20 shooting and was 14-15 from the free throw line. He also had eight rebounds, six assists and seven turnovers. Russell Westbrook was 8-22 from the floor for 21 points. He also had six rebounds, five assists and five turnovers.
Carmelo Anthony missed his second straight game with an injured right knee. The Knicks are now 4-5 in the nine games he has missed this season.
Jason Kidd did not score but was tied for the team lead with Tyson Chandler with 1o rebounds.
Kenyon Martin played his most minutes off the bench, 17, scoring four points and fouled out of the game.
The Knicks did not miss a free throw, going 14-14 while the Thunder were 25-29 from the line.
The Knicks made 35 shots but only had 10 assists while the Thunder made only 31 and had 16 assists.
The Knicks bench outscored the Thunder bench 59-24.
Oklahoma City scored 35 points in the first half and scored 36 points in the entire second half.
The Knicks are now 9-4 against the West this season but have lost 9 of their past 11 games against the Thunder.
I don’t believe in Moral Victories. I may if the Newspaper or your favorite internet sports site starts to put those in the standings section, but for now they don’t have them.
That being said, the Knicks played about as well as they could possibly hope for considering all the things that seemed to be going against them in this game tonight.
You had a rested Thunder team, one of the best teams in the NBA going up a Knicks team playing the second game of a back to back without their best player. Nobody gave the Knicks a chance to tonight and yet with eight seconds left they had the ball, down one, with a chance to win the game. I think everyone would have signed up for that if that option was available.
J.R. Smith took on the role that Carmelo Anthony has played to some critical acclaim this season and did pretty well shooting the Knicks back into the game in the second quarter.
What you saw from them in the second quarter and towards the end of the third quarter is what we know the Knicks can do over a 48 minute game and what makes them dangerous come playoff time. But what you saw defensively in the first and shooting wise in the fourth is why there are question marks about this team.
I thought this was the kind of game where the Knicks really missed Melo on offense. His ability to both drive to the rim and shoot the mid range jumper is a skill that the other Knicks players either don’t have or don’t use enough. The Thunder did not have much respect for anyone on the floor from an offensive standpoint except for J.R. Smith, and that was only after he got hot in the second quarter.
Give the Knicks defense a ton of credit for keeping Westbrook in check, especially in the second half. He seemed off his game after tweaking his ankle early in the game. That match-up looked like it could be ugly but, this game ended up really being about which team would miss the biggest shot down the stretch.
On a side note, I will say that a problem I had with this game was the amazing way Kevin Durant was not allowed to be touched. The refs do get credit for overturning the flagrant foul call on Kenyon Martin, but the fact they even called it was only because the name on the back of the jersey said Durant. Some of the fouls called on Durant’s behalf were a joke.
At the end of the day, the Knicks showed tonight they have the ability, the heart and put in the effort to win a game against an elite team minus their best player. They were one J.R. Smith turnaround jumper from getting a great win and I said above, anyone would have taken that before the game started. The toughest stretch of the season has only just begun and I think we should all feel a little bit more confident about this team doing well in those games after tonight.
Coming up next the Knicks keep running through the gauntlet of Western Conference playoff contenders as they will take on Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and the Utah Jazz. The game is on Saturday at 7:30 pm and can be seen on MSG.