Rookies Kevin Durant, Jeff Green help SuperSonics hand Knicks fourth straight loss
The team that plays here regularly is starting to forget.
Both rookies had played here before. Green was the Big East tournament MVP after leading Georgetown to last season’s championship, while Durant split a pair of games here in his one season at Texas.
“Just being here is special,” Green said. “Last time I was here, I won the Big East championship. Just coming back and playing here again is just a blessing. So I made the best of it and I had a good game.”
Former Knicks forward Kurt Thomas scored five clutch points in the final 2:31 as Seattle handed New York its fourth straight loss. Luke Ridnour and Wally Szczerbiak each scored 12 points to help the SuperSonics snap a five-game road skid.
“I was nervous coming here and playing in the Garden, but it was fun,” Durant said. “I think we played very well. It’s the Garden. Everyone says it’s the best arena in the world. Right before we went out, my heart was beating real fast.”
The Sonics bounced back impressively from a 123-96 loss in Chicago on Tuesday night. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said they got into their New York hotel around 4 a.m., but Seattle seemed to have plenty of energy, shooting a season-best 58 percent (47-of-81) from the field.
“We’ve done it three or four times this year,” Carlesimo said, “that we follow a real disappointing game and then the next night in a situation that doesn’t make sense we come back and do a good job.”
Jamal Crawford scored 29 points, and Zach Randolph added 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who usually start slowly at home. This time their troubles came late: Seattle made 13 of 18 shots in the fourth quarter.
“Didn’t get it done,” Knicks forward David Lee said. “We were with them the whole game, we weren’t playing catch-up for once and they were able to make a few more plays at the end. The frustration’s just growing for us.”
New York played its second straight game without point guard Stephon Marbury, who is away from the team and could miss two more games this week following the death of his father. Another starter, Quentin Richardson, sat out the second half because of a strained tendon in his right knee.
The Knicks were only down two before Thomas converted a three-point play with 2:31 to go. Randolph answered with two free throws, but Durant and Thomas knocked down consecutive jumpers for a 112-105 lead with 1:20 remaining to put it away for the Sonics.
New York fell to 6-15, tied with Miami for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“Right now we’re not playing good basketball and we’re not a good team right now,” said Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who appeared to be clenching his fist as he discussed his disappointment in his team. “We definitely have to get better.
“The gritty plays, the nasty plays that you needed, the fight that you needed, the heart that you needed, just the will that you needed to have out on the floor to be thirsty enough to win a game, that thirst wasn’t there for us tonight.”
Isiah Thomas heard his customary pregame boos, two nights after a season ticket holder told reporters he was lecturing fans near the bench for not being supportive enough.
Randolph got off to a strong start, getting eight points and seven rebounds in the first quarter to help the Knicks take a 31-27 lead. New York was up nine with 2:42 remaining in the half, but Green and Durant combined for all of Seattle’s points in a 9-1 spurt that got the Sonics within one. The Knicks led 56-53 at the break.
Durant scored 10 points in the third quarter, when the Sonics surged ahead by shooting 62 percent. Ridnour’s jumper gave Seattle an 83-79 lead going to the fourth.
Lee had 16 points for the Knicks and struggling Eddy Curry added 12—only two in the second half.
With the NBA celebrating “Heritage Week,” the Knicks wore uniforms from the 1972-73 season, when they won their last NBA title. … Knicks guards Crawford and Nate Robinson are Seattle natives who played in high school together at Rainier Beach High School. … The Sonics won for the first time on their five-game road trip, which they close with games at Minnesota and Utah.