NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
New York Knicks (49-26) at Oklahoma City Thunder (56-20), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Kevin Durant has won the scoring title in each of the past three seasons. His reign at the top is being challenged by Carmelo Anthony.
The two scoring artists clash Sunday afternoon with the New York Knicks taking their season high 11-game winning streak to Oklahoma City for a battle with the Thunder.
Anthony has scored 40-plus points in each of the previous three games, averaging 43.7 points per game in that span, and is second in the NBA with 28.3 ppg. Durant is slightly ahead with 28.4 ppg. Anthony leads the league with eight 40-point games this season and is the first Knick to score at least 40 points in three straight games since Bernard King in 1984-85.
"It's a great class to be a part of," Anthony said. "It's a great honor."
New York has been riding Anthony all season and used his 41 points on 17-of-28 shooting in Friday's 101-83 win versus the Milwaukee Bucks. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and J.R. Smith had another solid game off the bench, registering 30 points and 10 boards. Smith has scored 30 or more points four times in the past seven tries.
But Anthony's deluge has been something special.
"Right now I am in one of those zones. As a team we are in a real good place, a real positive place," said Anthony, who's first in the NBA with 9.0 ppg in the first quarter. "The energy is good on and off the court. Our confidence is growing each day. The best thing is we get to focus on the game we are in."
The Knicks haven't lost since March 17 at the L.A. Clippers and will put their five-game road winning streak to the test. New York is 21-16 on the road and owns a 5 1/2-game lead over Brooklyn for the Atlantic Division lead. The Knicks are second in the East standings, two games ahead of Indiana.
The last time the Knicks won 50 games in a season was 1999-00 (50-32). New York won 12 games in a row during a 15-game run in 1993-94 and is averaging 102.7 ppg during the recent win streak. It has been just as tough on defense in the previous 11 games, holding opponents to 89.7 ppg.
Knicks center Marcus Camby (foot) and forward Kenyon Martin (knee) are doubtful for Sunday's game.
Oklahoma City is in a battle with the San Antonio Spurs for the West's top seed and is just one-half game off the pace.
The Thunder have won three in a row and six of seven games, including Friday's 97-75 victory over the Pacers. Durant scored 34 points and Russell Westbrook delivered 24 for Oklahoma City, which holds the tiebreaker with the Spurs for the top seed and is 3 1/2 games ahead of Denver for the Northwest lead.
"We just want to continue to play good basketball and hopefully we continue to do that. It's a great opportunity for us," OKC coach Scott Brooks said of possibly getting the top seed.
Durant has scored 20-plus points in each of the last 14 games for an OKC team that has won three in a row at home and is 33-5 as the host. The Thunder are third in the NBA with 105.8 ppg.
After the Thunder entertain the Knicks, they will play three straight on the road against Utah, Golden State and Portland. Oklahoma City recently defeated New York, 95-94, on March 7 as Durant's go-ahead free throws in the fourth quarter sealed the deal.
Oklahoma City has won three straight and nine of the last 11 meetings with New York and is unbeaten in the previous five encounters as the host.
04/07 10:24:09 ET