5 Things to Know: Knicks and Thunder Square Off in Final Game Before the Break
1. The Knicks are fresh off arguably their most impressive win of the season. On Sunday afternoon, New York knocked off the second-best squad in the NBA in a resounding 94-90 victory over the Spurs. The Knicks outscored San Antonio 27-17 in the third quarter and Carmelo Anthony scored 10 of his 25 in the final stanza to close the show. Anthony was spectacular in the second half of action with 21 points to help New York snap a four-game losing skid.
2. Joakim Noah will miss his fifth straight game on Wednesday due to a sore left hamstring. Head coach Jeff Hornacek said the big man would attempt to take advantage of the All-Star break to recover and be prepared for the Knicks first game after All-Star weekend on February 23 in Cleveland.
3. In Sunday’s win, Willy Hernangomez received the starting nod at the center position. The rookie hit 6-of-8 from the floor, scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and recorded three steals in 29 minutes. Hornacek confirmed Hernangomez will start tonight in Oklahoma City as he gains the confidence of the coaching staff. In February, Hernangomez is averaging 11.5 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 59.2 percent from the field.
4. Oklahoma City has lost three of its last four games, including two straight double-digit defeats to Golden State and Washington. Saturday’s loss to the Warriors was a highly emotional contest as Kevin Durant made his first return to Oklahoma City since departing for Golden State in free agency. In the following game against the Wizards, the Thunder struggled mightily from the floor, missing 24 consecutive shots in the defeat. Oklahoma City has allowed 250 points in its last two games entering Wednesday’s home contest against the Knicks.
5. In the first meeting between the two teams on November 28, the Thunder escaped MSG with a 112-103 win. Russell Westbrook notched another triple-double with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists. Derrick Rose went toe-to-toe against Westbrook by scoring 30 points on 50 percent shooting and 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. The key aspect to the game was the differential on the boards as Oklahoma City snatched 53 rebounds and 17 on the offensive glass.
by Jonah Ballow