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Thunder overcome hot shooting from J.R. Smith to outlast Knicks

Mar 8, 2013, 12:00 AM EDT

New York Knicks' Smith walks off the floor after missing a shot in their NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in New York Reuters

Initially, a little of the luster was lost from the TNT matchup between the Knicks and the Thunder when it was learned that Carmelo Anthony would be forced to sit out his second straight game due to a sore right knee.

J.R. Smith took it upon himself to carry the offensive load for New York in Anthony’s absence, however, and as a result, we had ourselves a pretty entertaining ballgame.

In the end, the Thunder outlasted the Knicks to get a 95-94 victory, but it was much closer than expected thanks to Smith’s heroics.

The game gave us what we all expected in its first 12 minutes. Oklahoma City scored 35 first quarter points and led by nine after one, thanks to 15 points from Russell Westbrook, and a flailing offensive effort from New York to get things started. The Knicks opened 9-of-23 from the field, and were doubled up on the boards by their opponent.

The second quarter belonged to Smith, who scored 18 points in the period to cut the Thunder lead to just two by halftime. The shots came in typical fashion for Smith, who is one of the more capable scorers in the league when he gets rolling.

That roll continued in the third quarter, but not immediately. As Smith began the second half on the bench (as is his normal spot in the rotation), New York opened the period just 1-14 from the floor, with the lone bucket coming courtesy of Smith once he checked back in. The Thunder couldn’t gain any separation during that stretch, and as Smith hit step-back jumpers and three-pointers consistently, while Westbrook cooled considerably and missed five of six shots in the period, the Knicks took a six-point lead into the game’s final 12 minutes.

Knicks fans would have been happy to fill you in on how the final 12 minutes were about to unfold, even after Smith had just scored 31 points over the previous two periods. Smith would take, and sometimes force progressively tougher shots as he tried to keep it going, while the Thunder locked down defensively and had their superstar, Kevin Durant, score 12 of his team’s final 20 points.

The fourth was an ugly one offensively, as Smith made just two of his nine shot attempts and the Knicks managed just 13 points over the game’s final 12 minutes. The low-scoring final frame kept things close until the final buzzer, and Smith actually had two pretty good looks with the game in the balance that would have given his team the lead or the win had he gotten one of those shots to go down.

Smith finished with 36 points on 14-of-29 shooting, including making six of his 13 attempts from three-point distance. Durant didn’t play one of his more aesthetically pleasing games, but as always, he more than got the job done with 34 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, making 14 of 15 attempts from the free throw line in the process.

Ultimately, the game ended up as we expected it would — the Thunder came away with the victory, and Durant’s scoring led the way. But Smith provided more than enough excitement to keep things close, which kept us watching until his 17-foot, fading jumper in isolation over Westbrook rimmed out just before the final buzzer sounded.

  1. dko83 - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    What a great game. Getting really excited for playoffs where teams give it everything they have.

  2. ryanfort - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    Leave comments please #Fortonsports

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    That was a terrible stretch to finish the game. The turnover by Felt when they were loading to his side all quarter, and to hold the ball for seven seconds, isolate, FADE AWAY against a guy with a bum ankle with the THunder in the penalty? No way Woody drew that up, when he put Novak out there solely to take attention away from what had to have been a dribble drive for Felt, with either the option to finish (or get the foul) or dish to JR or Novak. JR thinks he’s Kobe SMH.

    • broncobeta - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Seriously. Smith just threw up errant jumpers in the fourth quarter. It was absolutely ridiculous. He shot his team into the game and then shot them right out.

  4. thenmoveback - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    Great game to watch. Thunder are a better team but Knicks put up a good fight without melo. Can’t wait for playoffs.

  5. rickyspanish - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    You guys got me all riled up for the playoffs now.

  6. ncm42 - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Isn’t 14/29 less than 50%?

  7. borderline1988 - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Let’s just call it for what it is…a horrible shot by JR Smith at the end. With 7 seconds left, down by one, you go to the basket, unless you’re open.
    He screwed around for 5 seconds before launching a turn-around, fadeaway long 2-pointer with a hand in his face.

    You live and die at the hand of JR Smith. He’s been playing well this season, but I just don’t know how a coach can trust him in the playoffs. Obviously the game wouldn’t have been close if not for JRs second quarter.
    But I don’t think he will ever turn the corner. He will always be a gunner without a head for the game.

  8. lameasish - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Not a Knicks fans but i feel bad for them, it’s tough to win a game when OKC gets to shoot 29 free throws. It seems every game they get around 25 FTA so they basically get an extra 20 points from the line EVERY game. Durant is a jump shooter, not sure why he get so many FT. If Durant get in the paint and misses the layup it is guaranteed free throws. Westbrook gets a lot of FT too but he always driving the hoop.

    • broncobeta - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      The whistle blows for the stars.

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