After Thursday morning's shoot-around practice, a New York reporter asked Kevin Durant if he had heard Charles Barkley's comments concerning the Thunder.
“I don't listen to that guy,” Durant said curtly. “What did he say?”
It was explained Barkley recently had reiterated OKC would never be a title contender with a bunch of jump shooters.
“He said that last year,” Durant said. “He said we wouldn't make it to the Finals with a bunch of jump shooters. We're shooting 48 percent as a team. We don't shoot all 3s, we don't shoot all jumpers. We get to the paint. We shoot mid-range shots. We can do it all, so of course he's going to say that. He's been saying that for years.
“We respect sometimes what he says. He's a funny guy, but we don't listen to him.”
Durant officially has 12 technical fouls this season after the league rescinded his technical from Tuesday night's game against the Lakers applied by official Joey Crawford even though it was during a timeout and Durant wasn't in the game.
Updated OKC technical standings: Durant 12, Kendrick Perkins 10, Russell Westbrook 9, Serge Ibaka 5, Hasheem Thabeet 3, Kevin Martin 2, DeAndre Liggins 2, Nick Collison 1.
A one-game suspension commences with No. 16 and with every other technical thereafter.
LIFE WITHOUT HARDEN
Thunder players also were peppered with question about departed sixth man James Harden.
Asked if the season would be determined solely by trading away Harden, Durant said: “Nope, I don't think so. We're still a good team. We're (45-16). If that was the case, we wouldn't have this good a record. We wouldn't be fighting for a No. 1 seed. With James last year, we had the same record, the same No. 2 seed.”
Durant also has grown weary of questions about recently acquired 38-year-old Derek Fisher and what he means to the OKC locker room.
“Fish doesn't want people to think of him just as a vocal leader, one of those guy who would just come into the locker room just to put his presence there,” Durant said. “I think he wants to show people he still can play, you know. And he still can.
“I'm done talking about how good a talker he is, how he brings a different demeanor to our team because everybody knows that. His play is going to help us out. His 3-point shooting and spacing, his aggressive defense, I think that's going to help us out. I'm done talking about Fish the talker. It's more about him as a player for us now.”
Thursday's game became a toss-up after impressive runs from both teams.
The Thunder went on a 16-0 run in the first quarter after falling behind 13-7.
Trailing 65-60 midway through the third quarter, the Knicks went on a 15-4 run to take a six-point lead thanks to 13 points from J.R. Smith, who nearly outscored the Thunder (16 points; 30.0-percent shooting) in the period all by himself.
There wound up being five ties and 11 lead changes.
With all eyes riveted on Durant and Westbrook as usual, three other Thunder players excelled against the Knicks and made victory possible.
With OKC frequently using a smaller lineup, Ibaka played 40 minutes and had 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Serge was good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He was defending. He was blocking shots. He got the offensive rebound that was huge. He's been aggressive all year, which is what he has to continue to do. This team is as hard to guard on pick-and-rolls as any team in the league. They've got a great point guard that loves to manipulate that screen-and-roll. I thought Serge was really good tonight.”
Martin broke out of shooting slump and buried 4 of 6 from the field (3 of 5 on 3-pointers) and also added four rebounds and four assists.
Point guard Reggie Jackson backed up Westbrook with eight points, including 2 for 2 from 3-point range.
Spotted in the crowd: Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Oliver Platt, David Duchovny, Emmy Rossum, Katie Couric, plus former Knicks Earl Monroe, Anthony Mason and John Starks.
BY JOHN ROHDE