With Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant separated by just a tenth of a point for the NBA scoring lead, Sunday's game between Oklahoma City and New York appeared to be a battle between two superstars. What actually happened was so much more.
Anthony put on a show, scoring 36 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, crushing the Thunder with nine offensive rebounds as the Knicks won their 12th consecutive game, 125-120 over Oklahoma City.
While Kevin Durant scored 27 points for Oklahoma City, it was Russell Westbrook who really carried the Thunder, scoring 37 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists. However, it wasn't enough for the Thunder to pull of the win against the streaking Knicks.
With Anthony and Durant's performances, Anthony took the scoring lead from Durant and now leads by just less than a tenth of a point.
The Thunder allowed the Knicks to shoot 49.5 percent from the field, including 15-of-34 from 3-point range. New York took an incredible 93 shots—25 more than the Thunder—a byproduct of 19 offensive rebounds. Anthony was the main culprit, but Tyson Chandler played a big part as well, constantly tapping missed shots into the backcourt for his New York teammates to corral.
Anthony led six New York players in double figures. J.R. Smith had 22 points, including back-to-back back-breaking shots at the end of the shot clock, the second of which gave the Knicks a 120-113 lead with 56.8 seconds remaining.
Raymond Felton had 16 points, Chandler scored 15 and Jason Kidd scored 14 points. Chris Copeland came off the bench to score 13 points—all in the first half—to help New York grab a 65-56 lead at halftime.
Aside from Westbrook and Durant, OKC had three more players score in double-figures, led by Kevin Martin's 15 points. Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka scored 13 points each, Ibaka on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting performance from the field.
Jackson scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter, serving as the catalyst for Oklahoma City's final rally. Down 98-89 at the beginning of the fourth, Jackson took over, scoring on driving layups and setting up teammates for other baskets. Altogether, Jackson scored or assisted on 13 of OKC's first 16 points of the fourth quarter. The other three points came on Durant free throws.
The Thunder used a 14-2 run in the first quarter to take a 21-14 lead on a Westbrook jumper with 4:45 remaining in the opening period. However, the Knicks quickly cut the lead to one point, thanks to three 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions from Kidd.
This was a game where defense was optional. OKC led 31-30 after one period, and the two teams each scored at least 30 points in three of the four quarters.
The second quarter proved to be the pivotal period of the game, as New York slowly built up an 11-point lead. While Oklahoma City didn't have many problems scoring, they simply couldn't stop Anthony and the Knicks, particularly from 3-point range. The Knicks knocked down 10 total 3-pointers in the first half, the final one coming from Anthony that gave the Knicks a 10-point lead. On the next possession, Smith hit Chandler with an alley-oop pass to make the score 65-53.
Westbrook did his best to keep Oklahoma City close in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in the period, but Anthony and Smith combined to score 21 of the Knicks 31 points in the period to keep the Thunder at bay heading to the final period.