Knicks @ Thunder 8 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
During Thursday night’s loss to Memphis, Carmelo Anthony dealt with a myriad of injuries. Anthony injured his left wrist and a right ankle sprain sidelined him for the entire second half. At Friday’s practice, Anthony received treatment for both injuries and the team lists him as doubtful for the contest against Oklahoma City. On a positive note, Jared Jeffries returned to the practice floor and was upgraded to questionable for Saturday night. Jeffries has not suited up since Christmas Day, when the big man was sidelined with a calf injury.
Over the last two years, the Thunder was considered an emerging team on the rise. This season, Oklahoma City might have arrived behind a talented cast of players and led by superstar Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook. The core group is back after a 55-27 finish in 2010-11 and the Northwest Division winners are motivated to reverse last year’s disappointment against Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. One of the negative aspects to the Thunder’s 10-2 start was the season-ending injury to back-up point guard Eric Maynor, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. Otherwise, Oklahoma City is rolling with five straight victories heading into tonight’s contest against the Knicks.
Last Time Out
The Knicks look to bounce back after a 94-83 loss to the Grizzlies on Thursday. Anthony scored 14 points before his injury and Bill Walker jumped off the pine for 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor and 4-for-7 behind arc.
Oklahoma City captured a 95-85 victory over the Hornets on Wednesday night. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 51 points in the win as the Thunder recorded their fifth road victory of the season.
The Numbers Game
Amar’e Stoudemire averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and four assists in his two meetings against Oklahoma City last season.
Match-up to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Russell Westbrook
Obviously, the Knicks will have to limit Durant’s productivity tonight in order to secure a road win. However, the matchup between the rookie Shumpert and Westbrook is intriguing. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Shumpert has the size and strength to defend a physical point guard like Westbrook. Shumpert will have to utilize his lateral quickness to cut off driving lanes for Westbrook as he will attempt to breakdown the defense. The Knicks rookie is also looking to rebound from a cold shooting performance in Memphis while Westbrook has combined to score 52 points in his last two games.
What to Look For
At Friday’s practice, head coach Mike D’Antoni expressed disappoint in the team’s loss to Memphis on Thursday. The head man used time in Oklahoma City to provide a substantial film session that Stoudemire explained as more of a classroom atmosphere than a full fledged practice, which he felt was highly productive. With Anthony listed as doubtful, the Knicks will search for scorers to fill the 25.5 points per game lost from their All-Star small forward. Stoudemire believes the key on the offensive side of the floor is ball movement and assistant coach Herb Williams told KnicksNow.com that solid transition defense is one of the top priorities for the team on the opposite side of the court. Similar to the challenge the Knicks faced against the surging Sixers three nights ago, Oklahoma City features a high octane offense that ranks No. 5 in the league.