Melo-Less Knicks Fall To Thunder, 104-92
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 28 points, James Harden added 24 off the bench and the Oklahoma City Thunder raced past the New York Knicks 104-92 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.
Russell Westbrook was on his way to his sixth career triple-double with 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists before coach Scott Brooks pulled his All-Stars with Oklahoma City leading by 30 points and nearly 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
New York played without Carmelo Anthony because of a sprained right ankle and injured left wrist, but it was the Knicks’ defense that was missing.
West-leading Oklahoma City scored 70 points in the first half and kept its starters on the bench throughout the fourth quarter for the third straight home game won in a blowout.
Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Toney Douglas scored 14 points for the Knicks.
Coach Mike D’Antoni suggested before the game that the Knicks had been improving on the defensive end. Their last five opponents had averaged only 87.2 points, and none had scored even 50 points in a half.
The Thunder quickly did away with that line of thinking.
Durant, Harden and Westbrook combined for 53 points in the first half as Oklahoma City scorched New York’s defense to build a 70-47 advantage.
New York’s Bill Walker and Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka were called for a double foul during a skirmish after Harden’s 3-pointer from the left wing extended the Thunder’s lead to 56-40 with 2:51 left before halftime. Instead of waking up the Knicks, it only ignited another run against them.
Durant converted a layup off of a failed alley-oop, Ibaka hit a jumper and Harden added a three-point play as Oklahoma City reeled off seven more points — for a 12-0 run in total — and pushed the lead out to 23. Westbrook rubbed salt in the wound by dribbling down the final few seconds of the half and drilling a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
He then took a couple high steps and stuck his hands down at his sides as if he were sticking guns in holsters. Westbrook had been just 4 for 23 on 3-pointers this season before hitting two of his three attempts against the Knicks.
Durant had a three-point play and Westbrook a driving layup during a run of nine straight points for the Thunder that pushed the lead to 85-55 midway through the third quarter, and both were on the bench for good not long after that.
Oklahoma City was shooting 57 percent through three quarters before clearing off the bench and missing 12 of 14 shots to start the fourth. The Thunder matched their longest winning streak from last season, when they made it to the Western Conference finals.
Jared Jeffries, who had been out since opening night with a strained left calf, played 22 minutes in his return and missed all four of his shots. He did hit a free throw and pulled down five rebounds.
NOTES: Knicks assistant Mike Woodson got a technical foul in the first four minutes, just after Stoudemire was whistled for the first foul of the game and protested on the opposite end of the floor. Stoudemire picked one up just over a minute into the second quarter. … Westbrook came out of the game for 22 seconds in the first quarter after twisting his left ankle by stepping on Mike Bibby’s foot. … The Thunder play 11 of their next 14 games on the road.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)