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Knicks look very much a contender out-scoring Thunder in OKC

Apr 7, 2013, 4:05 PM EDT

Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd AP

What do you want from your title contender?

A superstar to lead the team? How about Carmelo Anthony with 36 points and 12 rebounds — nine offensive? He took over the league’s scoring title race with that performance.

Toughness inside? How about 19 offensive rebounds on one end and your big center Tyson Chandler contesting shots in the paint at the end on the other? (And that was without Kenyon Martin or Amare Stoudemire.)

Three point shooting? How about 10 in the first half and 15-34 for the game”

Quality play off the bench? How about 54 points and 10 threes?

Sunday the Knicks went into Oklahoma City and checked off a lot of boxes on the contender card, beating the Thunder 125-120 in a one of the more entertaining games of the season. That would be a dozen wins in a row for the Knicks as they have found their groove before the playoffs.

If you believe playoff statements can be made in the regular season, the Knicks made one this week beating a depleted Heat and an at-full-strength Thunder.

When talking about the Knicks as contenders, the hesitation was simply are not a good defensive team. There was never any doubt they could score but can they get stops? This game certainly didn’t alleviate that concern but it showed the Knicks can overcome it. On the season their defense is average (15th in NBA in points per possession) but in their 10 games before this they were allowing 1.5 points per 100 possessions fewer, which has them 8th in the NBA in that stretch.

Meanwhile, the Thunder looked beatable. Again. They have two fantastic scorers in Russell Westbrook (37 points on 27 shots) and Kevin Durant (27 points on 17 shots), but their system has a little isolation heavy and that makes them easier to defend. The difference in ball movement between the two sides was stark — the Knicks rate up there with the Heat and Spurs as the teams really sharing the rock right now.

This game was what the Knicks look like when the three ball is falling — they can score in bunches. In the first half it was the long ball that carried the Knicks — 10 threes and a total of 65 points by the break.

The other part of that was their bench. Jason Kidd was 4-of-6 from three for the game, J.R. Smith had 22, and Chris Copeland exploited his matchup with Nick Collison in the first half (Collison isn’t quick enough to cover him on the perimeter and Scott Brooks stuck with that matchup for way longer than he should have).

This was a close game — 110-109 New York with 4 minutes left — and it was the Knicks that made plays down the stretch.

It was Anthony driving baseline again, missing and getting his own rebound again and scoring. It was Tyson Chandler contesting and forcing Durant to miss a floater. It was a J.R. Smith stepback 20 footer then a possession later a 26-foot three off a broken play.

The Thunder made plays also down the stretch — Westbrook in particular with a steal and bucket, then a key three — but it wasn’t enough. When the Knicks offense is clicking they can just outscore teams. That’s what they did.

It felt like a playoff game and the Knicks have won again. They look ready for the postseason in 10 days and like a team that can do a lot of damage when it starts.

  1. moe0594 - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    1st

    • goraidersgospurs - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Not the site for that s#it go to TMZ & MTO for that!!

      • moe0594 - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:18 PM

        1st place in the ATLANTIC Division….Damn, Let me finish!!!

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 6:39 AM

      I want the Knickerbockers to get shot @ all the heavy weights with a full squad.
      These boys are rollin’ and they play without fear.

  2. nashernation - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    The Knicks are for real down the stretch run. Melo and Jr are lighting it up. The addition of Kenyon Martin has been the turning point towards the end of the season.

    • broncobeta - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      I agree that the Knicks are playing extremely well.

      However, you’re high if you think the addition of Kenyon Martin was the turning point. Melo getting healthy was the obvious turning point.

  3. ravensallday2012 - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    They will be out quick. Lets not get ahead of ourselves here

    • djeter220 - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Excellent analysis, you’ve made some salient points.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 6:40 AM

      yeah we will listen to you because everyone had the Ravens winning the super bowl.
      get lost!

  4. bowens3181 - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    The Knicks look impressive. From a Nuggets fan’s perspective Melo is still extremely overrated, but the Knicks have put the pieces around him to make up or his deficiencies. Also extremely impressive coaching by Woodson, getting this team to at least try on defense. I legitimately think they could beat the Heat in the playoffs.

    Once.

    Heat in 5. No real contest.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      Still bitter huh? Good luck to Gallo, though.

      • broncobeta - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Bitter? More like relieved.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      You Nuggets fans should be embarrassed. More focused on booing Melo than actually winning the game (although nearly the entire Knicks offense was injured). But I guess when you stand no real chance to beat anyone on the road in the playoffs, you pull this transference nonsense.

      • broncobeta - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        Yeah, we’re real sad about the past two seasons we’ve had.

        We would be bad fans if we didn’t boo Melo. Frankly, I could care less about him. I always knew his stay here was temporary.

    • jolink653 - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      No real contest? Have you seen how well the Knicks have played the Heat this season? That’s a really stupid thing to say when the Knicks have won 3 out of 4, one game in Miami without Melo, Amare, or Sheed, and the Heat have been full strength for 3 out of those 4 games and the Knicks still won the first two by 20+

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      you shouldn’t drunk post, you look more dum.

  5. rickyspanish - Apr 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    Them Knicks are on fire! It’s too bad that the Heat/Knicks rivalry isn’t what it used to be. The fans are still mortal enemies but the players are too chummy. I don’t want the Heat to run through the eastern conference, I want drama.

  6. eboneseagles - Apr 7, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Kurt, are you still going with heat in 5?

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Maybe 6 now. Maybe. I still think the Heat are far superior, especially defensively.

      • marcusfitzhugh - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:24 PM

        How is it that the “far superior” club got beat 3 out of 4 games against the Knicks?

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        Far superior, yet yield the same PPG. Brilliant analysis.

      • Kurt Helin - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        Points per possession is what matters when comparing teams. The Heat simply have a much better and more consistent defense.

      • mojo2028 - Apr 8, 2013 at 8:48 AM

        That’s more like it. Heat in 5 is just too one-sided! Regular season doesn’t guarantee wins in the playoffs but winning 3 – 4 gets you atleast 2 wins in a series. The playoffs are about matchups and the Knicks matchup well with the Heat….that is undeniable.

  7. eboneseagles - Apr 7, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    If they play like this, they could honestly beat anybody. The thing is they don’t always play like this. However, in big games against good teams they come together and always seem to gel like this. I just hope it can continue into the playoffs.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      6-2 vs. OKC, SAS, MIA. The loss to OKC was shorthanded and still a chance to win without the bonehead step-back by JR on a gimpy Russ, and the Heat needed the refs just to beat us in the other loss. I like our chances against anyone. Even WITH the refs BSing.

      • broncobeta - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        You sir, suffer from selective vision.

  8. phillyphil005 - Apr 7, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Scott Brooks is showing his ineptness by not getting this OKC offense running smoothly. It’s Westbrook taking it himself or Durant taking it himself 90% of the time…it is stagnant, and it is easy to defend. KMart is a glorified three point shooter…not in the same galaxy as Harden who created, scored, and ran the offense.

    They made no effort to get better at the trade deadline by getting a guy with a post game to take pressure off Westbrook and Durant, and he doesn’t play his youngsters enough…who by the way, can score if they got some run.

    Losing Harden hurt them, but Brooks isn’t doing them any favors by getting this team to play as a unit on the offensive side of the ball.

    OKC would be lucky to get to the WCF this season…Memphis, Denver, and SA all have a good shot to beat them, and I’m an OKC fan.

  9. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Overcame the refs and still scored 125 and the W. Plus Melo gets the lead in the scoring title. Nice Sunday.

  10. rickyspanish - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Mr Wright

    Do you need to complain about everything? Your team played a great game against a team thought to be a title contender. Buck up and be happy, the Knicks look like a good team.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      No complaints in anything I said, just stated facts, as always. Anyone with eyes and watched the same game that I watched had the same conclusion.

      I know it’s difficult for you to see that when your team benefits from officiating every game, but don’t try to negate facts with this constant trolling.

      • rickyspanish - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        All you do is whine about the refs, even when the Knicks win. Also, I am no troll. I complimented the Knicks, how is that trolling?

      • broncobeta - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        LOL.

        Constant trolling? You’ve bitched about the refs at least 3 times every Knicks post. That’s a troll my friend.

  11. mungman69 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Stop crying about the refs you f¥£king crybaby.

  12. money2long - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    hopefully the “pundits” came around about the knicks after this one.

    • kinggw - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM

      I doubt it. Teams dont score 120+ points a game in the playoffs, especially in the East. Great win by the Knickerbockers today, but looking at their current path to the Finals (right now it looks like the C’s, then Pacers and Heat) I still don’t see how they are going to be able to shoot 30+ three pointers a game and win.

      Im not hating, thats just an objective observation.

  13. borderline1988 - Apr 7, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    This Knicks team is for real…but the problem is that they are really, really streaky. Up and down the lineup, guys like Carmelo, JR Smith, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton…they’re all super-streaky.

    As a team, they look fantastic when they’re all hot, because they demoralize opponents with their 3pt shooting.
    But when the 3pt shots aren’t falling or when Carmelo is scoring at a 40% pace instead of 60%, they don’t look nearly as good.

    I think their success in the playoffs will come down to 2 players: JR Smith and Raymond Felton.

    • badintent - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:41 AM

      Have you seen the Kidd and Tyson pick and roll for a slam dunk alley opp ? Knicks have only run the play 100 times this year. Or our fast break with JR or Shumpert finishing ? Or …… never mind, you were too busy with your EA sports video game.

      • borderline1988 - Apr 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM

        ‘too busy with your EA sports video game’

        I don’t play video games. Was a pretty lame insult anyways.

        The Chandler/Kidd combination can be defended b/c Jason Kidd is not a threat to turn the corner and go to the rim, and while he’s a great catch and shoot 3 pt shooter, he’s not a jump-shooter especially off the dribble. Sure that play will happen against bad defensive teams, but it won’t happen very often against good defensive teams, where defenders can properly rotate to cover Chandler, and the big can cut Jason Kidd off.

        Felton on the other hand is much more dangerous in that situation b/c he can drive, pull-up, or even hit midrange floaters.

  14. jimsjam33 - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Keep going strong Knicks . Beat the Heat and face the Clippers in the finals .

    • badintent - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:44 AM

      amen brother. Would love to see that matchup.Congrats on your divison win and sending the Kobettes to 9th place. I hear Phil Jackson is having a barbeque party for Mike Brown, with Jim Buss as the roast pig.

  15. johnmiked - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Listen I was one of the Knicks fans saying they were all smoke and mirrors. But this last run is way more impressive the first and here is why. KMART is a beast and if Lebron thinks Boozer pushed him around he should wait till Kenyon smacks him around. I’m not saying there gonna beat the heat but they have a real shot. Melo is the best pure scorer in the NBA. And Tyson and KMART will blast the heat all day down low just like Dallas did. Again stop calling Melo overrated cause danillo is done so whatever you think the trade is now officially in the Knicks favor.

  16. dysraw1 - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    this is definitely was a statement game that theNY. Knicks can play with the best this league can throw good job been waiting all season for that statement game

  17. dysraw1 - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    beating the Spurs twice was nice too

  18. beatsbythe0ne - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Glad the knicks were able to get this game.Melo got busy and Smith hit a dagger in the fourth Knickstape all the way!

  19. jjones314 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I’m all in with the Knicks. They are legit. Good role-players and Melo is a beast offensively…I believe they should win the title.

    But it’s all on Melo. HE HAS TO GET IT DONE COME PLAYOFFS. It’s time.

  20. yousuxxors - Apr 8, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    the Knicks are doing so good because they are actually moving the ball. please stop bitching about the refs .. that goes for everyone who does.

  21. mojo2028 - Apr 8, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Listen fellow Knick fans and all you haters/doubters. I am a huge Knicks fan, but this impressive streak won’t mean anything unless the Knicks show up in the playoffs. Melo will have to be a leader throughout and prove all the doubters wrong because, let’s be honest, the Knicks haven’t performed in the playoffs for a very long time and nobody can see them beating the Heat. Melo is saying the right things and playing the right way, but IMO, Felton will have to shoot better and our Defense needs to be better if we are going to do real damage in the playoffs.

  22. pistolpete0903 - Apr 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Sorry Knicks fans….it still looks like the East comes down to Pacers or Heat.

    Having said that, if Kidd and Tyson can recreate the magic from their Mavericks days (never too late to underestimate the veteran savvy in the PLAYOFFS), then the Knicks can create some serious damage.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      Pacers?
      another drunk poster.

      • pistolpete0903 - Apr 8, 2013 at 10:07 PM

        Aww….. did I hurt your feelings sweetheart?

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