By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Behind another big game from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks beat OKC 125-120 in a wild one on Sunday. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Offensive rebounds plagued OKC down the stretch. And they were deadly in the game’s deciding run. Trailing by one with four minutes left, the Knicks scored five consecutive points, four coming the second-chance variety, as Carmelo Anthony bullied his way into the paint and knocked in a couple crucial cutbacks. In all, Anthony had nine offensive rebounds on the day and the Knicks had 19.
It was over when…
…J.R. Smith provided the definitive daggers, drilling a fallaway 20-footer and 28-foot prayer (at the shot clock buzzer) on back-to-back possessions, spiking the Knicks lead from three to seven with only 56 seconds left to play. Smith (22 points) was part of an explosive effort from the NY bench, who outscored OKC’s second unit 55-30.
Star of the game – Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo came into Kevin Durant’s house and snatched the game and scoring lead from OKC’s beloved superstar. And it came in wildly impressive fashion. Carmelo has his basketball faults (suspect defense, limited court vision, etc.), but man, when on, he is as fun to watch offensively as anyone in the league. On Sunday, he went 15/29 from the field for 36 points and 12 rebounds, burning the Thunder with an array of post moves, long jumpers and shots at the rim. It continued an amazing four-game stretch of basketball for Anthony, where he has gone for 50, 40, 41 and 36 points.
Kevin Durant went for 27 on Sunday, but still fell behind Carmelo for the scoring lead. Anthony averages 28.44 per game, while Durant is at 28.35.
Another wildly effective game for OKC’s constantly improving superstar guard: 37 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 turnover. He deserves serious consideration as an All-NBA First Teamer.
What we learned
The Knicks proved once again, like they have multiple times over this impressive 12-game win streak, just how deadly they can be. Now…is it time to start taking them for real? As a title contender? Maybe. Only time will tell. But when they’re at their best (with Carmelo going vintage Carmelo, J.R. Smith firing in unconscionable 30-footers, Tyson Chandler manning the paint and the rest of their ragtag group providing threes and energy), New York can play with anybody. Miami included. But I just don’t see them being able to sustain it for an extended series.
As far as the Thunder, I didn’t think it was that bad a loss. The defense was porous and the offense was stale at times (they still scored 120 points). But they just happened to run into a red-hot Knicks team. On to the next one…
The flip side of that argument:
Bill Simmons on ABC after the game…
“Oklahoma City, this was a take care of business type game at home. I have real concerns about this team. I don’t think they know who their best five guys are. I think there’s too much dribbling…Oklahoma City’s just one-on-one stuff. I don’t like the way they’re playing.”
Stats of note
-Carmelo Anthony has 167 points in the past four games. Derek Fisher has 149 the entire season.
-Reggie Jackson went for 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in 21 impressive minutes. All things considered, probably his best NBA performance to date.
-Jason Kidd hit four big threes on Sunday. That gives him 1,983 for his career. Seems like a lot for a guy who many say doesn’t have a shot.
-The Knicks hit 15 threes and only committed six turnovers. That’s a formula for victory.
The brutal three-game in four-day stretch is now in the rear view, but OKC still has a tough test awaiting on Tuesday. The Thunder travel to Utah to face the playoff-hungry Jazz.