23 January 2011
I said that the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks would play in game that had the potential to be one of the higher scoring games of the season. I told anyone who would listen how concerned I was that Amar'e Stoudamire could have a career day. I predicted that this game would go back and forth with many lead changes. I stated that this game would go down to who has the ball last will win.
Hey, one out of four isn't all that bad.
The Thunder defeated the Knicks last night, 101-98, on a three pointer at the buzzer by Kevin Durant. It was the final shot of the game, meaning the team who had the ball last did indeed win.
That was about all that I got right, but you know what? I'll take it in a heartbeat.
There were not many lead changes. In fact, Oklahoma City had not led since the first couple of minutes of the second quarter, but they were able to erase a six point deficit in the final three minutes to avoid suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season. So much for the lead changes going back and forth.
This was also nowhere near the highest scoring output for either team. Not by a long shot. In fact, it was only the second time in the past seven games where the Thunder scored less than 105 points. It was also the first time in the past six games that they allowed under 100 points on defense. It was New York's sixth consecutive loss, and they have not cracked triple digits in scoring in their last three contests.
I also was very scared of how Stoudamire would fare, whereas opposing big men who can score have done so with relative ease against the Thunder. Yet the home team was able to hold the Knicks' big man to just 18 points. It was his second game in a row with less than 20 points. Prior to these past two games for Stoudamire, that had not happened since the end of November against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Again, I never claimed to be any sort of sports Nostradamus or anything, so as long as the only prediction I got right was a Thunder victory on the final possession, I am completely fine with that fact.
Stoudamire finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for New York, while Danilo Gallinari led the team in scoring with 23 points. Raymond Felton finished with 10 points and 7 assists, although he missed a few crucial shots down the stretch to give the Thunder a chance to win it at the end.
Durant finished with a game high 30 points, with none being more special than his last three. He may have struggled from the field, but all was forgiven following his final shot. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook did not have a double-double, although his final stat line was extremely impressive. He dropped 28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and blocked one shot. He and Durant continue to be the highest scoring duo in the entire league, and it does not appear as if they are ready to relinquish that role any time soon.
Nenad Kristic stepped it up last night, finishing with 12 points and 6 rebounds. The other two starters, Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha, contributed very little of the offensive end of the floor, but played fairly well defensively. Serge Ibaka had 11 points and a career high 15 rebound in a reserve role, although it is becoming harder and harder not to start him.
Throughout his young - but illustrious - career, Durant had not hit a game winner since his rookie season in Atlanta while this team was still located in Seattle. Last night may have just been the "SuperSonic" lift that he and this team needed.
* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24. as he was recently named as One of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter.
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