[Video] Punked at Home: Westbrook Triple Double and OKC Frontcourt Too Much for Knicks

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

Madison Square Garden had begun to symbolize gritty and unselfish basketball via the Knicks’ five game home winning streak. That came crashing down tonight via Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Oklahoma Thunder, who bullied the Knicks on the boards and had their way in the fourth quarter to take a 112-103 victory.

Last game, the Knicks could use the excuse of weak legs on the second night of a back to back. Tonight could offer no such excuse as the Knicks shot an abysmal 40% from the field and got out-rebounded 53-40.

The bench disparity was huge. Enes Kanter had 27 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. Anthony Morrow added 14 points. The entire bench combined for 58 points compared to 19 from New York.

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Derrick Rose (30 points, 7 rebounds), no doubt motivated by the Westbrook matchup, was the only Knick to have a great performance. In the fourth quarter, he was the only player that was aggressive and looked to attack in the paint. Porzingis (21 points, 9/20) and Melo (18 points,4/19) relied on the jumpers, which failed them both. It was especially disappointing for Melo, who started the game 3/5 and then went on to miss 11 of his next 12 shots (many of them at the rim).

Because of the size of OKC, Coach Hornacek gambled and had Joakim Noah (2 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) out there in crunch time. Aside from a good block on a Westbrook layup attempt, Noah couldn’t do much on the rebounding nor defensive end to stop Kanter and Steve Adams (14 points) from getting deep paint position. Noah had gained some goodwill from a few sweet lobs to KP in the first half, but his weak tip-in attempts gave me painful reminders of how ineffective Tyson Chandler was in his last Knick season.

Russell Westbrook was brilliant and the Knicks never matched his intensity. He ripped rebounds out the hands of our bigs like Porzinigs and Hernangomez, and his penetration provided easy rim looks for the OKC bigs. Westbrook had a triple double at halftime and finished with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and 14 assists.

The Knicks will look to find some reprieve on Wednesday in Minnesota against the equally struggling Timberwolves.

 

[Video] Knicks Hold Off Late Thunder Run, Win 93-90

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — We still haven’t fixed our fourth quarter woes, but I’ll tolerate them if we keep pulling out victories. Last night, the Knicks saw their 16-point lead erased by a 24-11 run in the fourth quarter but avoided overtime and defeated the Thunder on the road 93-90.

Bad fourth aside, there was a lot of good to take away from this one. Melo was clutch (aside from two missed free throws) in his 25 points, hitting some timely shots to OKC at bay. Lance Thomas and Derrick Williams were our biggest bench contributors with a combined 21 points with 60% shooting from downtown.

Speaking of threes, New York  was 12/20 on the night while holding OKC to 10% (3/29) from deep.

Nonetheless, the Thunder were one lucky bounce from taking this game into overtime. We lost the rebounding battle badly (36-49) and will need to tighten that up tonight against the Rockets.

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[Video] Westbrook Drops 40, But Knicks Top Thunder 100-92

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The Knicks notched their third straight home victory last night with an impressive win over the Thunder. Although playing without Kevin Durant (sprained left foot big toe), New York had to contend with Russell Westbrook, who torched the Knicks earlier this year. This time around, Westbrook went for 40 points (13-30 shooting), but couldn’t overcome the Knicks three-pronged attack of Carmelo Anthony (31 points, 10 rebounds), Langston Galloway (18 points) and Lance Thomas (17 points).

The game was tightly contested the entire way and came down for the fourth quarter, where New York’s season has been mired by heart-breaking collapses. Tim Hardaway Jr. (14 points) was pivotal in keeping the Knicks in front with three 3-pointers in the period. New York had an 11-point lead with under three minutes to go, but saw that sliced to five in the final minute due to porous defense. Lance Thomas, on his second 10-day contract, hit a short turnaround jumper to ice the game with 45 seconds left.

Two unheralded contributors last night were Jason Smith (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Lou Amundson (5 points, 10 rebounds).

The Knicks are back in action tonight on the road against Indiana.

[Video] Returning Westbrook and OKC Maul Knicks 108-75

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By the time the first quarter ended, the Melo-less Knicks had scored a just 13 points on 30% shooting and were looking at a 17-point deficit. Being a “Knicks loyalist” feels more like being a sadist these days, as the team never got within striking distance and ended up losing 105-78.

WESTBROOK UNSTOPPABLE: In his first game back from a broken right hand, Westbrook was a terror on the Knicks’ hapless defense. He slashed to the rim for dunks and layups, hit pullup jumpers, and even dished the ball when necessary. He ended up with 32 points and 8 assists, with most of his damage being done in the first 24 minutes with OKC scoring a season-high 59 first half points. New York was held to just 33, the second fewest all season by an OKC opponent.

EMBARRASSING DEFICITS: Jose Calderon’s return has seen a marked improvement in the ball movement, but the team is still composed of too many players that can’t create their own shots and have to settle for long, contested jumpers. The Knicks were 2/19 from three-point land and could only muster 39% shooting from the field.Only two players managed double figures (Stat, 20 points and Hardaway, 11 points). In the second quarter, the Knicks were down 40-13. By the third, the deficit had ballooned to 37 points.

ALARMING NUMBERS: Right now, the Knicks are out of the playoffs by about 4 games. However, the team has went 0-3 on this road trip and 1-9 in their last 10 games.The schedule gets much tougher in December, meaning if the NY doesn’t find some type of continuity in the next several weeks, it’s likely they’ll be a lottery team headed into 2015.

MELO UPDATE: Our leader spoke to the media before the game and advised he’s getting “closer” to coming back from back spasms that started during the first quarter of the Rocket game. In addition, he’s still dealing with some nagging left knee soreness.

UP NEXT: New York gets their first crack at the new look Miami Heat on Sunday night at MSG. Although nowhere near as bad as the Knicks, the Heat are also off to a sluggish start with an 8-7 record.

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Knicks Take 12th Straight Win in Wild Shootout With the Thunder

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What a game! I was confident in the Knicks’ chances considering they battled the Thunder down to the final shot at Madison Square Garden last month without Melo. The big concern was how our slower and older guards would handle the merciless penetration of Russell Westbrook and OKC’s strong frontline with Kenyon Martin sitting out his second game. The response came from our bench, who fought tooth and nail to set the table for the Knicks to outgun the Thunder in the final minute to pick up arguably their best road win of the season.

OKC LIVES AT THE FREE THROW LINE, THE KNICKS BEHIND THE ARC: The first quarter was very annoying to watch as the refs called a bunch of ticky-tack fouls on what seemed like every Knicks player. Any contact on Durant, no matter how light, resulted in a  foul call. Just four minutes in, Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni had two fouls apiece. Melo got his second a few minutes later, helping the Thunder get out to a 21-14 lead.

Like the first game, the Knicks were not intimidated and roared back behind two three-pointers from Jason Kidd. The Knicks would end up going 6/7 in the first quarter and were only down 31-30 despite the Thunder shooting over 60% from the field.

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COPES SHOWS AND PROVES: The knock on Chris Copeland is that while he can score, it’s offset by the fact he’s a huge defensive liability. That wasn’t the case today. Copeland’s first half offense was crucial in keeping the Knicks in it with Melo sitting. He had 13 points that came from behind the arc and also in the paint. On defense, he swatted away a Westbrook drive and had active hands in causing deflections. And with ball movement, he kept the forced shots to a minimum, giving a sweet assist to Steve Novak for an open trey (who was 2-4 from downtown in the first half).

The bench output was the main reason the Knicks were able to go up by as much as 12 in the first half before settling for a 65-56 halftime lead.

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SURVIVING THE RUNS: As expected, the Thunder made strong pushes in the third and fourth quarters. Each time, the Knicks had an answer. When the Thunder got to within a point (84-83) with 2:52 left in the third, Melo drained a three. When the Thunder took a brief fourth quarter lead, guys like Raymond Felton brought the momentum back.

Speaking of Ray, that man knows no fear in crunch time. Like he did in the fourth quarters against the Hawks and Bucks, he continued going right into the teeth of the defense. His aggressiveness resulted in 16 points and 8 assists.

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MELO WINS HIS DUEL: It’s been a minute since Durant and Melo went at each other and it didn’t disappoint. While Westbrook was the primary scorer this afternoon (37 points), Durant wasn’t too shabby either with his 27 points. However, Melo dropped 36 and was most impressive with his attack on the offensive glass, where he had a season-high in nine (12 rebounds total). It was a welcome sight to see Melo keep his cool and get the putbacks despite being fouled repeatedly. He had two key tip-ins (one off his own miss and another off a missed JR free throw) late that gave NY a little breathing room and set up the coup de grace…

JR CLOSES THE SHOW: JR Smith didn’t shoot well today. He missed a few open threes early in the fourth that could have ended some of the late drama. But like he’s done all throughout this winning streak, JR got it done when the game was on the line. With the Knicks clinging to a 115-113 lead, Smith hit a long jumper with the shot clock expiring to make it 117-113. And on the next possession, Smith bailed us out with a dagger three to ice it. Applaud this man.

THE BENCH: The Knicks bench outscored the Thunder’s 55-30. JR was JR with his 22 points, but Kidd’s 14 and Copeland’s 13 were huge contributions. A total team win.

THE CRITICS ARE QUIET: No one gave us any slack when we rolled out our banged up lineups, but we were quick to hear about how our recent Heat win didn’t mean anything with Wade and James sitting. Well, the Thunder were at full strength and out for blood. They were turned back on their home floor. Speaking of emphatic road wins, the Knicks have them in abundance this year against the Spurs, Heat (2X),Celtics and now Thunder.

The Knicks have their first 50 win season in 13 years and are just one win away from securing their first Atlantic division crown since 1994. Taking out the Thunder was their 12th straight win. And this is all without having a fully healthy roster the entire year.

You’re still not a believer? It doesn’t matter — the Knicks know they are for real.

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