After a competitive first half, the New York Knicks crumbled to the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon. The Knicks played well enough to keep the game in reach for the most part, but they simply couldn’t keep up with the Western Conference’s top team. The battle of the NBA’s two top scorers turned out to be a dud, too, as Kevin Durant simply out-classed Carmelo Anthony on his way to 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. The Thunder sealed Anthony and forced his looks, thus making other Knicks step up. While New York still had good offensive production elsewhere, their defense was no match for Durant and his teammates who fed off of the defensive attention the Knicks had to pay Durant.
A look at the individual performances:
Carmelo Anthony – 36 minutes, 15 points, 5-19 FG, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, -9
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Carmelo Anthony look so… human. Compared to Durant’s other-worldly skill, Anthony looked over-matched by a Thunder defense that was aggressive and physical, sticking to his body on all drives, contesting every jumper. When Anthony finally did get good looks, he was already too out of sync. His defense, at times, was admirable against Durant, but he looked like the lesser forward in this showdown.
Final Grade: C-
Iman Shumpert – 22 minutes, 12 points, 4-9 FG, 4-8 3FG, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 TOs, -5
Something about southern midwest areas just gets Iman Shumpert’s shot goin’. For the first time in recent games, Shump looked awake and lively, canning several threes in the corner and contributing to some generally good ball movement. He had no answer on defense, however, when paired with Durant.
Final Grade: C+
Tyson Chandler – 32 minutes, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, -10
We can all admit it, right? Tyson Chandler looks like he’s giving up on this team. Once the paint-swarming, order-barking anchor to the Knicks’ defense, Chandler looks exhausted with the team’s lackadaisical defensive plan and it’s seeping into his overall performance. Not boxing out while Serge Ibaka slams in a missed shot right past him? Standing and watching as a guard dives to the paint for an open layup? I’m not familiar with this Tyson Chandler.
Final Grade: C
Raymond Felton – 34 minutes, 16 points, 7-14 FG, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 3 TOs, -14
Felton coupled another one of his better offensive performances with one of his most laughable defensive efforts. On the one end, Felton looked as spry, fleet-footed, and aware in the pick-and-roll as he ever does, worming his way for layups or spotting rollers and shooters waiting for him to deliver the ball. On the other end, he got embarrassed by Reggie Jackson who used a quick first step to beat him to the hole several times. When Felton gave Jackson space to make up for the speed difference, Jackson calmly stepped into open jumpers and sank them. He gets a decent grade simply for orchestrating a mostly crisp offense.
Final Grade: B-
Pablo Prigioni – 22 minutes, 5 points, 2-2 FG, 4 assists, 1 steal, +1
Got extended burn as the only point guard on the floor and handled it well, particularly in the pick-and-roll. He remains the Knicks’ best guard at defending other PGs (have we mentioned that Pablo is 37-years old?) and the only one reliable at rotation on time or communicating on a switch.
Final Grade: B+
J.R. Smith – 31 minutes, 7 points, 3-10 FG, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 TOs, -10
Smith checked into the game in the first quarter, stumbled his way to a layup, and then got stripped off the dribble on back-to-back possessions by Thabo Sefalosha. It set a bad tone. Smith took good shots and passed willingly, but was just kind of a mess on the court. He struggled against OKC’s defense and was thorouhgly abused by Durant on defense.
Final Grade: D-
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 22 minutes, 5 points, 2-6 FG, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, -7
Hardaway spent most of his time hiding on the court having no effect. Strangely. I hardly recall him shooting the ball, dribbling, getting burned on defense, none of it. The Knicks could have used a scoring burst from him today.
Final Grade: C-
Amar’e Stoudemire – 26 minutes, 16 points, 5-11 FG, 4 rebounds, – 14
Stoudemire’s offensive revival has been fun to watch — he sank midrange jumpers and slipped around in the pick-and-roll with aplomb once again. His defense today, especially on the help when guards broke free from the perimeter, was as bad as it’s ever been. Still, 16 points on 11 shots in 26 minutes is a nice tool to have off the bench.
Final Grade: C+
Jeremy Tyler – 11 minutes, 10 points, 4-5 FG, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 2 TOs, +2
Mike Woodson simply needs to make sure Tyler doesn’t fall out of the rotation when all of the bigs are healthy. Furthermore, should the Knicks’ season ever officially go down the drain, he needs to feature him on the court, because Tyler looks like a player that can be part of the future. He shows off a new skill set each game; in this one, he showed off a fancy up-and-under move on the low block and a turn-around later on. I like Jeremy Tyler.
Final Grade: B
Incompletes – Cole Aldrich, Metta World Peace, Toure’ Murry
Follow Scott Davis on Twitter.