Sunday’s Knicks-Thunder game was billed as a matchup between two of the top scorers on the planet.
There was one problem for the Knicks, though: Their big scorer failed to show up.
Carmelo Anthony missed 14 of 19 shots and finished with just 15 points -- his lowest point total of the season. He had just one field goal in his last 21 minutes on the floor.
Kevin Durant, on the other hand, was masterful, finishing one assist shy of a triple-double. The NBA’s leading scorer had 41 points on 12-of-22 shooting. He got to the line 18 times, making 13 free throws. Durant also pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out nine assists.
The Knicks (20-31) allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 54 percent from the floor and hit 12 of 27 3s (44 percent). The Thunder had 28 assists on 39 made shots. The Knicks, on the other hand, shot 43 percent from the floor and were outscored 15-4 on fast-break points.
Oklahoma City has won 13 of 15 and, at 40-10, has the second-best record in the NBA.
The Knicks have lost four of five and are two games behind Charlotte for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks are also a game back of Detroit, which fired coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson has been on the hot season for much of the season. His seat will only get hotter if the Knicks lose their next game -- at home against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
Anthony off: Durant lived up to his end of the bargain, but Anthony struggled for much of the afternoon.
Anthony missed five of his first six shots and had just two points in the first quarter. At the half, he was 3-for-9 with seven points. Durant, on the other hand, had 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting at the half. He has 31 30-point games and has scored at least 25 points in 18 consecutive games.
Durant also did a fantastic job guarding Anthony for most of the game on Sunday. Anthony missed 8 of 10 in the second half.
Anthony’s off afternoon was a big departure from what we've seen from him lately. Anthony averaged 33.6 points per game in his last eight games prior to Sunday and was shooting 51.3 percent from the field. Anthony and Durant have combined to win the past four regular-season scoring titles. Durant entered play today averaging four more points than Anthony.
Quiet afternoon for Smith: J.R. Smith entered play averaging 19.5 points over his last six games. He struggled to match that average against Oklahoma City.
Smith finished with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. He took a shot to the head on a drive in the fourth quarter when his head collided with Durant’s knee. But Smith appeared to be OK. Tim Hardaway Jr. had just two points in 22 minutes. Iman Shumpert shot well from beyond the arc, hitting four 3s in 22 minutes to finish with 12 points.
What’s next: The Knicks will return home to prepare for Wednesday’s home game against Sacramento, their last game before the All Star break.
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