The 44-16 Oklahoma City Thunder venture to midtown Manhattan tonight to take on the 37-21 Knicks. At first glance these two teams would seem to have little in common beyond their membership in Commissioner Stern’s club.
The Thunder were established when the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, while the Knicks are one of the oldest franchises in the league. OKC is one of the smallest markets in pro ball; New York City is the biggest market this side of London or Seoul. The Thunder are the fifth youngest squad in the league; the Knicks have the oldest roster. And Oklahoma City has the National Cowboy Museum, while Gotham City is inhabited by millions of city slickers.
However, both the Thunder and the Knicks currently sit second in their respective conferences and lead their divisions. Both have won five of their last six games and are looking to make it three in a row with a W tonight. OKC has the league’s top scorer in Kevin Durant (28.6), and the Knicks have the second best scorer in Carmelo Anthony (28.2).
The Knickerbockers played last night in Detroit and came away with an 87-77 victory despite committing a season-high 21 turnovers – a surprising stat given that New York averages a league-low 12.1 turnovers per game.
This sloppiness with the rock may have been attributed to the fact that many of the Knicks were pressing to make up for Anthony’s lost production since he was forced to miss the game with a right knee injury that will keep him sidelined again this evening. The Knicks were led by 6th man extraordinaire Amare Stoudemire, who scored 22 points and had 9 boards in 31 minutes off the bench. Over the last six games Stoudemire has been on fire, shooting 72.9% from the field.
The Thunder last played Tuesday at home against the Lakers. Unlike the Knicks, Oklahoma had a franchise-record two turnovers in the contest and tied the NBA record – quite a feat considering they are the second-worst offenders in the league. Behind PG Russell Westbrook’s 37 points, 10 boards, 5 dimes and 2 steals, OKC held off a late Laker rally and prevailed 122-105. Westbrook has averaged a team-best 32.2 ppg over the last 6 contests.
Tonight’s 48 will be the first of two matchups between these two sides this season. Tune in to TNT at 8PM ET to watch the Knicks defend their home court against the young, hungry Thunder and their 17.1 fast break points per game.