After the New York Knicks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder today, the top two scorers in the NBA are separated by mere decimals- Carmelo Anthony with 28.3 and Kevin Durant with 28.4 points per game.
The win in OKC was the Knicks’ twelfth in a row, the longest winning streak in the NBA. In the first quarter Anthony, who usually goes to work in the opening period, struggled and uncharacteristically missed five consecutive shots. He did finish with 15 points in the first quarter on 7-14 shooting.
Anthony is a full-fledged superstar in this league, but the Knicks are discovering that they have another star on the team: their bench. Against the Thunder, the bench scored 36 of the team’s 65 first half points.
Jason Kidd was feeling it from 3-point range, going 4-6 for 14 points, and Chris Copeland shocked everyone by going 5-7 for 13 points in the first half.
J.R. Smith, the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, went for 22 points on 7-18 shooting, including the two biggest shots of the game. Smith hit two contested jumpers, one of them a deep 3-pointer as the shot clock winded down, with about a minute left to give the Knicks a comfortable seven point lead in the fourth quarter.
Anthony finished with 36 points on 15-29 shooting, and also grabbed 12 rebounds (9 of those on the offensive end). The Knicks star is clearly the best scorer in the NBA. Durant, although elite in his own right, finished with 27 points (7-17 FG), but attempted 15 free throws (13-15). Anthony, in contrast, hit 3-4 FTs, with the only calls he received being when the Thunder were intentionally fouling in the end.
It’s becoming more and more evident that the Knicks are a championship contender. LeBron James and the Miami Heat, as well as every other team in the NBA, had better be taking notice. The Knicks are legitimate and, led by Antohny, have their sights set on the NBA Championship.