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Knicks Stick it to Thunder | December
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Winning streaks are very nice in the NBA. Unfortunately, they often seem to be immediately followed by a losing streak, or at least at stretch of more losses than wins. Maybe it doesn't always happen that way - especially to teams such as the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs - but this year has seen every modest winning streak by the Oklahoma City Thunder end in them losing a handful of games afterward. 

I guess it could always be worse. I actually think that is the official motto of the Sacramento Kings.

The Thunder lost a physical road game to the New York Knicks last night, 112-98. The game appeared as if it was going to be a Kevin Durant highlight film. He scored 13 points in the first quarter, but he was only able to match that total the rest of the game to finish with a game high 26. The Knicks held Durant to just 7 points in the second half as fatigue seemed to set in for Oklahoma City. After their hard fought fourth quarter the previous night that helped lead to Larry Brown's departure as Charlotte Bobcats head coach, the Thunder withered as this one progressed. Russell Westbrook scored 23 points and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists, but he shot just 10-24 from the field and turned the ball over four more times.

But the biggest factor in this game may have been the matchup problems faced by the Thunder. The Knicks were much more physical inside and had far greater size and depth in the middle. The team was once again without starting center, Nenad Kristic, and while Serge Ibaka has played well and was able to grab 8 rebounds again last night, he missed all six of his shots while having half of them blocked. That was nothing unusual for New York, as they blocked 9 shots on the night.

At times, it appeared as if the Thunder may have a chance to come back to make it close down the stretch, but New York just kept crushing their chances as their starters were flat out more productive. All five of the Knicks' starters scored in double figures, highlighted by Amar'e Stoudamire's 23 points. He also had 7 boards and 4 assists. Wilson Chandler had 21 points, and Raymond Felton pitched in with 12 points and 10 assists. While Stoudamire has clearly been the team's MVP so far this season, Felton is a key reason why this team has been able to turn things around.

Jeff Green and James Harden were the only other Thunder players aside from Durant and Westbrook to score in double figures, but they did so on a combined shooting effort of 9-27 from the field. If those numbers do not demonstrate the pounding enough, then take a look at these stats:

Assists: New York 30 - Oklahoma City 15

Free Throws: New York 18-21 - Oklahoma City 19-25

Three Pointers: New York 10-21 - Oklahoma City 3-17

Field Goals: New York 42-86 - Oklahoma City 38-97

In a game that featured the top three career scorers from the 2007 NBA Draft in Durant, Green and Chandler, the Knicks proved that they are for real this year, while the Thunder proved that they still have room for improvement. The team will now have a couple of days off before they host the Denver Nuggets on Christmas night to begin a four game homestand. They will hope to build some momentum during that stretch, because the team will then hit the road for a brutal trip that includes 8 of their next 11 away from the Ford Center. They will get a bit of a boost when they take on the Nuggets Saturday, as Carmelo Anthony is expected to be away from the team until after Christmas due to a death in his family.





 

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