World Cup 2014 coverage:
20-31
100 -
Team 1 2 3 4
NY 28 25 25 22
OKC 29 29 28 26
112

Knicks-Thunder Preview

AP - Sports

Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have combined to win the last four regular-season scoring titles, and they are currently first and second in the NBA in points per game.

The two All-Star forwards go head-to-head in a Sunday matinee as Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder host Anthony and the New York Knicks.

Durant, who is averaging a league-best 31.0 points, has been both scoring and distributing at a high level recently. With Russell Westbrook still sidelined because of a knee injury, Durant has averaged 7.6 assists over his last eight contests while still never scoring fewer than 26 points.

He scored 29 Friday in Orlando and tied a career-high with 12 assists, but the Thunder (40-12) couldn't hang on to a 14-point halftime lead. Durant made just 1 of 7 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter and Tobias Harris's dunk as time expired gave the Magic a 103-102 win.

Oklahoma City was held to 14 points in the last quarter, tied for its fewest in the final 12 minutes all season.

"We couldn't do anything (in the second half). We were just a step slow," Durant said. "We kept running the same plays. We didn't help on the back side. We let guys cut to basket. ... There were just mental breakdowns."

The Thunder fell to 17-7 since Westbrook last played in a 123-94 Christmas Day rout of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Westbrook had a triple-double in that meeting and Durant scored 29 points in 32 minutes, but that came with Anthony sidelined due to a sprained left ankle.

Anthony had 36 points and 12 rebounds as the Knicks won their last trip to Oklahoma City, 125-120 on April 7.

That was only the Thunder's fourth home loss in a 33-game stretch, and New York will face another difficult challenge Sunday. Oklahoma City has won eight straight at Chesapeake Energy Arena as Durant has averaged 35.3 points and shot 58.8 percent.

The Knicks (20-30) should come in feeling confident after snapping a three-game skid Friday with a 117-90 rout of Denver. New York shot 56.5 percent from the field, and Anthony led the way with 31 points despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

The Knicks have been far from a one-man show lately, however. The bench contributed 60 points versus the Nuggets, the reserves' second-highest total of the season.

"Everybody played their part," Anthony said. "It was a great team win and we want to build off that."

Sixth man J.R. Smith is averaging 19.5 points over his last six games, rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. has averaged 15.2 points in that same stretch and Amare Stoudemire has totaled 32 points and 15 boards in 41 minutes over the last two games.

Still, Anthony has been the catalyst. He is averaging 33.6 points over the team's last eight games, shooting 51.3 percent from the field.

"We don't want to give him too much space," Thunder forward Nick Collison told the team's official website of defending Anthony. "He likes space to be able to shoot his rhythm jump shot. You have to still have sound principles on the other guys. You can't always overreact or change your habits because they have a great scorer."

From the Knicks' perspective, they'll need to pay attention to more than just Durant. Serge Ibaka has averaged 19.7 points over his past nine games while shooting 65.0 percent.

He went 10 of 14 from the field and had 24 points in the first meeting with New York.

Recent Thunder Loops

View more loops
View Comments