Russell Westbrook was everything you expected him to be; constantly attacking, occasionally brilliant and occasionally out-of-control. Sometimes on the same possession.
It was Westbrook who put the Oklahoma City Thunder in position to win a road game and it was Enes Kanter who carried OKC home. Kanter, a back-up forward known for his offensive skills and his defensive lapses, produced three baskets in the final three minutes as the Thunder held off the Knicks for a 112-103 victory at the Garden.
The loss snapped the Knicks’ six-game home winning streak and dropped them to 8-9 overall heading into Wednesday’s game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota.
Oklahoma City in the post-Kevin Durant era improved to 11-8 with Westbrook detonating for 27 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists. He is now averaging a triple-double on the season.
Kanter also scored 27 but he was much more efficient, making 12 of 17 shots including 4 for 5 in the final period. Steven Adams added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Derrick Rose was the Knicks leading scorer with 30 points but he failed to score in the final five minutes. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony had a dreadful shooting night, missing 15 of 19 shots. He still finished with 18 points by converting 10 of 11 free throws. Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points on 9 for 20 shooting.
Enes Kanter hooks a shot over Joakim Noah. He finished the game with a team-high 27 points.
Joakim Noah heard boos as the struggling center produced just three rebounds and one basket in 25 minutes. He also missed an uncontested tap in late in the fourth quarter that led to a Kanter basket. The momentum swing was huge, and one the Knicks could not recover from.
Westbrook ended the first half one assist shy of a triple-double but he took care of that early in the third quarter with a perfectly executed chest pass to a streaking Victor Oladipo for a breakaway dunk. OKC had trailed by 11 in the first half but suddenly went ahead by nine with Steven Adams having his way with Joakim Noah in the paint.
While Westbrook was making his mark with his passing, Rose was keeping the Knicks close by exposing Oladipo. Rose scored 10 third quarter points but Anthony missed five of six shots and the Knicks went into the final period down 88-81.
The Knicks had gone 3 ½ minutes without a field goal and were down 10 when Jeff Hornacek replaced Brandon Jennings with Rose, who made an immediate impact. The first shot Rose took, an off-balance jumper, ended the drought. Moments later, Porzingis hit a pull-up jumper and Willy Hernangomez stole a pass from Jerami Grant and converted it into a lay-up.
Billy Donovan immediately called time out to get Westbrook back in but that didn’t stop Rose, who produced two more baskets. The Knicks closed to within 99-94 when Porzingis buried a corner jumper and after Westbrook misfired on a long jumper Porzingis Euro-stepped his way to a dunk.
Kristaps Porzingis forces one of his two steals of the night but the Knicks can’t muster up enough defense to slow down the Thunder.
Westbrook was suddenly forcing everything and ended up drawing a questionable charge on Noah. Westbrook converted both free throws but the Knicks got to within 101-99 when Courtney Lee, off a broken play, hit a three from the wing.
The Knicks had a chance to draw even but Rose’s runner in the lane was blocked. That allowed Westbrook to get out in the open floor where he found Andre Roberson in the corner for an open three.
A year ago, Roberson wasn’t confident taking these types of shots. Today, he calmly sank it giving OKC a 104-99 lead with 3:46 to play.
Anthony answered with a pair of free throws but over the next 90 seconds the Thunder scored six straight points, including a pair of baskets from Kanter, who finished a fast break that began with Noah missing a tap in. After Anthony ended the run with two more free throws, Kanter beat both Noah and Porzingis on the glass yet again and his tap in increased OKC’s lead to 112-103 with 1:34 left.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News