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Anthony scorches Thunder for 36 in Knicks' victory

The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The past three seasons, Kevin Durant has taken on all comers. Whether it was LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, no matter who came after the Oklahoma City All-Star for the NBA scoring title, he found a way to hold them off.

Durant might have met his match this season. New York's Carmelo Anthony was in full scoring-machine mode Sunday when the Knicks paid a visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Anthony scored 36 points and grabbed nine offensive rebounds to lead New York to a 125-120 win over Oklahoma City and extend the Knicks' win streak to 12 games. He also took over the NBA scoring lead in the process.

"This is probably one of the biggest wins we've had in a long time," Anthony said. "Just for the simple fact it was on the road, it was against a great Thunder team. For us to come out here and keep our composure on the road and win here -- this is a tough place to win."

It was only the second home loss since the All-Star break for the Thunder. Durant said the team is not ready to push the panic button.

"We have five more games to go," Durant said. "We lost a tough one. This team shot the ball well, hit some tough shots all night. We forced them to shoot some tough ones, and they hit them."

Despite that, it was a game Oklahoma City had its chances.

The Knicks (50-26) led 112-111 with 3:30 left in the game. Russell Westbrook, who had just scored four straight points, turned the ball over. Anthony made the Thunder (56-21) pay when he bulled his way to the basket and put back his own miss.

After a Raymond Felton free throw for New York, Westbrook knocked down a jumper to get Oklahoma City within 115-113. But with the fans at a fever pitch, the Knicks' J.R. Smith answered with consecutive 3-pointers to put the Thunder away. The second came on an assist from Felton as he was falling down.

"Just to get a win like this, it's good for our confidence," Felton said. "A lot of people were counting us out. A lot said we were going to lose this game. It's a good win. It will shut a lot of mouths up in that perspective. It was a great win for us against a great team."

Smith scored 22 points for New York off the bench. Tyson Chandler and Felton combined for 31.

Durant paced Oklahoma City with 27 points on 7 of 17 shooting from the field to go along with seven assists and four blocks. But he failed to score a point in final five minutes of the game.

Westbrook finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kevin Martin added 15 points and Reggie Jackson chipped in with 13.

"I was just trying to stay in attack mode," Westbrook said. "Keep them on their heels and make them guard us."

New York has now hit the 50-win mark for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

The Knicks' game plan early was simple. They were going to take the ball out of Durant's hands at every opportunity with an automatic double team. Durant didn't attempt a shot in the first quarter.

The tactic allowed other Oklahoma City players, such as Serge Ibaka, to find shots. He started the game 4 of 4 from the field and had four blocks as the Thunder led 31-30 after one quarter.

"Every time I caught the ball, it was a double team," Durant said. "I know you guys like me to shoot a lot. But I can't shoot over three people or two people sometimes. All night they would double in the post, so I just tried to trust the pass to my teammates. I believe in them 100 percent."

The Knicks got an unexpected boost off the bench from Chris Copeland, who posted 13 points in the first half. He was able to take defenders off the dribble or knock down long distance 3-pointers.

"Copeland came through when we needed him," Felton said. "If Melo is out, he fills in that void of trying to score the ball. He has been great. Hopefully he will be with us for a while."

The combination of Copeland and Anthony allowed New York to take a 65-56 advantage into halftime.

New York pushed its lead to 12 before Oklahoma City went on a run and closed to a point at 84-83. Westbrook paced the spurt with a couple of steals, several assists and 14 points.

Anthony responded with eight of the Knicks' next 11 points, hitting two 3-pointers.

The Thunder trailed 96-89 heading into the fourth quarter.

"Not a lot of defense out there on our part," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "The thing that was concerning tonight ... we just gave up too many offensive rebounds. When we did make them miss, they got 19 offensive rebounds and 23 put back points. That's not good."

NOTES: In his 19th year, New York's Jason Kidd is still putting up eye-popping numbers. The backup point guard is the career leader in games, assists, steals and minutes. He is also No. 2 in 3-pointers. During Kidd's rookie year, Brooks was his teammate and still marvels at his longevity. "He's good," Brooks said. "His biggest asset is his heart. He just has the will to win every possession. He's been able to make shots as his career has evolved. That's due to the work he has put in." ... New York was short-handed in the frontcourt playing without Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby. It was a second consecutive DNP for Martin and Camby has missed five straight games. ... It's expected to be announced that former New York Knick Bernard King will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said it's about time. "Before he tore his knee up, he was just unbelievable," Woodson said. "He was relentless. Nobody could stop him from scoring the basketball. He had the will and the knack to put the ball in the hole. He was a tough competitor. Hardnosed. Nasty."
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