Three minutes before, Ibaka uncharacteristically missed a dunk that also would have served as Durant’s 10th assist.
“Next time, I’m going to make sure I make that for him,” Ibaka said.
But it’s not like missing out on one final dish at all diminished Durant’s all-around dominance.
During a stretch from the 3:49 mark of the third quarter until 5 1/2 minutes remaining the final frame, Durant scored or assisted on 21 of the Thunder’s 23 points. His efforts kept the Knicks at bay and put the Thunder ahead, 99-89, midway through the fourth.
“That’s something I know he can do,” said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony of Durant’s seventh 40-point performance this season. “He can do that on a consistent basis every night. He makes it look easy. When he gets it going like that, it’s hard to stop him.”
As impressive as anything else Sunday was Durant’s defense.
Matched up for much of the game against Anthony, the league’s second leading scorer at 27.4 points per game, Durant held the Knicks star to a season-low 15 points on 5-for-19 shooting.
“I’m not saying that he locked Carmelo down. But he made his shots difficult,” Brooks said. “He didn’t get a lot of clean looks.”
Said Durant: “If you want to play on this team, you have to play on the defensive end … In order for us to be a good team, I have to be a two-way player and I realized that these last few years.”