Turns out the Thunder might have gone too small for its own good in its 125-120 loss Sunday afternoon to the streaking New York Knicks, who have now won 12 straight.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, one of the league's strongest players when he pounds the offensive boards, hauled in a game-high 12 rebounds before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Nine of Anthony's boards came at the offensive end, which he parlayed into 11 points of his 36 points.
All told, 19 of New York's 41 rebounds came at the offensive end as the Knicks outscored the Thunder 23-15 in second-chance points. New York closed the game with a 15-2 run on second-chance points after OKC had led 13-8 late in the third quarter.
“It was a little bit small out there,” Anthony said. “They didn't really have no big men out there, so my advantage was to just try to attack the glass and try to get a quick tip-in here and there, and it worked.”
MELO NOW LEADS
Anthony overtook three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant in this year's scoring race. Anthony officially passed Durant in the third quarter, temporarily lost his lead early in the fourth quarter, then was able to pull away primarily because Durant's teammates didn't do him any favors by intentionally fouling Anthony in the final 31.3 seconds.
Anthony is now averaging 28.44 points per game. Durant, who finished with 27 points, is averaging 28.35 points.
Anthony and Durant have known each other for roughly a decade, having both grown up in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, and shared a quick laugh shortly before the opening tip.
In the second half, after Anthony was knocked to the floor after converting a contested layup, he broke into a smile while running past Durant's brother, mother and grandmother seated in the front row, who apparently said something.
“That's my friend. That's my guy,” Anthony said of Durant. “I've been with him for a long time. We get a chance to know each other more and more. (He has) a great family, very supportive. It was good to see them today.”
Though the Knicks have beaten some quality teams during their 12-game winning streak, Sunday's victory over an OKC team that was at full strength and playing well might be the best of them all.
“This is probably one of the biggest wins we've had in a long time,” Anthony said. “The fact it's on the road against a great Thunder team. We've been playing well. For us to come out here and keep our composure … and win here. This is a tough place to win and we came out here and did it.”
New York sixth man J.R. Smith, who had 22 points, including two key baskets in a 32-second span in the final 1:30, recalled the crowd from his days playing with the relocated New Orleans Hornets.
“This is definitely the loudest place in the league,” Smith said. “They've got a great crowd here.”
The New York bench outscored the OKC bench 55-30, including 36-17 in the first half. Then again, the Knicks bench outscored Knicks starters 36-29 in the first half.
In addition to Smith's 22 points, Jason Kidd had 14 points (4 for 6 on 3-pointers) and rookie forward Chris Copeland had 13 points, all in the first half.
The New York bench also had more rebounds (18-9) and assists (9-7) and steals (2-0) than the OKC bench.
“Our bench was phenomenal today,” Anthony said. “Guys just stepped up.”
OKC reserve forward Nick Collison had contact underneath on an Anthony putback and had to leave with a bloody nose with 4:31 left in the game. Collison, who had been bloodied several times in recent games, officially is day-to-day. … Collison was replaced by Serge Ibaka, who played well with 13 points (6 for 6 from the field), six rebounds and five blocked shots. He continues to extend his league lead in blocks and is on the verge of winning that title for the second straight season. … In addition to reserve guard Kevin Martin (15 points; 5 for 7 shooting; three rebounds), the Thunder got a big lift from reserve point guard Reggie Jackson, who had 13 points (6 for 8 from the field), four rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes. … Taking up the entire grease board in the Knicks' locker room was a big “50” with the words “WHOOP WHOOP”. New York is now 50-26 on the season.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson on his team's 12th straight victory: “This is a tough building to win in. They're a well-coached team. We just battled them right from the beginning to the end. We were solid. It was like an old school shoot-out with all the offense that was displayed tonight. For our team it was a great win.”