Thunder-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been giving away Christmas Day road games since the franchise's time in Seattle.

Burdened with an unwanted tradition, the Thunder will spend this Christmas at Madison Square Garden looking to snap a 10-game skid in road games played on the holiday when they face the New York Knicks.

Oklahoma City (22-5) may find the task a bit easier if Carmelo Anthony is in street clothes after the Knicks' leading scorer left Monday's 103-98 win over Orlando with a sprained left ankle.

Anthony will be a game-time decision, and his presence has made all the difference for the teams he's played for when facing the Thunder. Dating to his time in Denver, he has won nine straight against them and averaged 30.2 points. With Anthony out of the lineup, his teams have lost four straight matchups.

"Hopefully I'll be there," Anthony said after leading the Knicks with 19 points against the Magic. "I don't want to miss that game. It's Christmas in the Garden. I don't want to miss that game."

Point guard Raymond Felton, meanwhile, has already been ruled out with a strained right groin. He was playing his first game back after a six-game absence due to a strained left hamstring when he tweaked the groin in the fourth quarter.

"I'm concerned (about Anthony), but I'm not as worried about him as I'm worried about Ray, the way he came back and then to go down again. It's tough," Knicks forward J.R. Smith said. "He's our point guard, for sure."

Smith added 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting against the Magic.

While injuries have limited the Knicks (9-18) all season, the Thunder suffered a setback in the standings Sunday when they snapped a nine-game winning streak with a 104-98 home loss to Toronto.

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points, while Kevin Durant added 24 on a season-worst 5-of-16 shooting.

Oklahoma City's 36.8 percent night was its worst regular-season mark at home since hitting 34.3 percent on Nov. 1, 2009 against Portland.

"Losses happen in this league," Durant said. "They beat us fair and square, you know? We missed some shots, too. I think our defense was good. They got some shots late in the fourth quarter that helped them a little bit but I think our defense was good. We were swarming them and they hit some tough ones, too, but we missed some good looks."

Still, the Thunder have won 17 of 19 and present a difficult task for the hobbled Knicks. The loss to the Raptors was their first in eight games this season against the Eastern Conference.

Oklahoma City has also won eight straight on the road against the East dating to last season, a streak that started with a 95-94 victory at the Garden on March 7 - a game that Anthony sat out due to a sore right knee.

The Knicks, who have won their last two at home on Christmas, are looking to win consecutive games for the second time this season. They are 0-8 against the West, however, losing those games by an average of 10.1 points. New York has scored 100 or more just twice in those games, and Oklahoma City is 15-0 when holding opponents to double digits.

The teams split two games last season with the road team winning each.

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