THUNDER 95 KNICKS 94 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
The Knicks and Thunder engaged in a hard fought battle and a photo finish in Oklahoma City’s lone trip to Madison Square Garden this season. The Thunder escaped New York with the victory after J.R. Smith just missed a game-winner at the buzzer, resulting in a 95-94 win for OKC.
Smith was spectacular, scoring all 36 points in the three quarters following the first period of action. His season-high was not enough to lift the Knicks without their leading scorer Carmelo Anthony. The All-Star missed his second straight game due to a sore knee.
New York outscored Oklahoma City 26-15 in the third frame to take an 81-75 lead into the final stanza. Smith’s big 3-pointer to conclude the third quarter shifted the momentum towards New York’s direction.
At the 4:15 mark of the fourth quarter, Smith buried another long ball to provide a 90-89 advantage for the home squad. Raymond Felton finished with a layup a couple of minutes later and the Knicks were clinging to a one-point lead.
Kevin Durant sunk two free throws with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter, the final points registered in the game and helped the Thunder capture the victory.
Russell Westbrook and Durant took turns dominating the game for Oklahoma City. Westbrook scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half. Durant dropped 21 of his 34 points in the second half and some clutch buckets down the stretch.
Head coach Mike Woodson placed James White, Kenyon Martin, Smith, Jason Kidd on Durant throughout the night. Amar’e Stoudemire started the second half.
Stoudemire scored 16 points off the bench in 28 minutes of action. Felton added 16 in the defeat.
“I tried to get to my spot where I wanted to get to. I really should have went to the basket. It didn’t work like that…my jumper was good all night until the fourth quarter.” -- J.R. Smith
Knick of the Night:
Smith was sensational from the field (14-of-29) and behind the arc (6-of-13). He accomplished the prolific scoring night in just 36 minutes while defending Durant at several points during the game.
The Knicks bench combined for 58 points tonight.
The Knicks will remain in New York for the next two days and prepare for another Western Conference contest against the Jazz on Saturday night.