Riding Three-Game Win Streak, Knicks Host Thunder in Melo’s Return to MSG
1. The Knicks blasted past Brooklyn in the final stages of Thursday’s contest to notch their second road win of the season. After establishing a 13-point lead in the first half, New York surrendered the advantage in the third frame and Kristaps Porzingis left the game with a sore left knee. Courtney Lee and New York rallied back as the veteran guard tallied 18 points in the second half to help the road team secure the 111-104 win. Michael Beasley scored 11 points in the third quarter, Kyle O’Quinn and Enes Kanter combined to grab 19 rebounds, and Frank Ntilikina dished out a team-high eight assists. With their third straight victory, the Knicks improved to 15-13 on the season and they currently sit in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
2. Porzingis did not return to game action after suffering the knee injury in Thursday’s contest. Following the game, Porzingis told reporters he did not feel the injury was serious and he was hopeful to suit up against the Thunder on Saturday. He is averaging 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game this year. The team has listed Porzingis as questionable for today’s matchup against Oklahoma City.
3. Carmelo Anthony will make his first appearance at Madison Square Garden since the offseason trade to the Thunder. In seven seasons with the Knicks, Anthony averaged 24.7 points and seven rebounds per game, reached the All-Star game seven times, won the scoring title in 2012-13, and set the MSG scoring record with 62 points. On the flip side of the deal, New York acquired Kanter and McDermott from Oklahoma City. Kanter has been welcomed with open arms by the fan base and he’s delivered on and off the floor. In 25 games, the big man is averaging a double-double with 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. He has fit perfectly next to Porzingis as the two players have quickly become a force in the Knicks frontcourt. McDermott has provided a spark off the bench and not only with his sharpshooting from the perimeter. The 25-year old owns a myriad of highlight dunks this season and he’s displayed a knack for scoring off of back-door opportunities.
4. These two teams squared off in the season opener on October 20 in Oklahoma City. While New York kept it close in the first half, the Thunder pulled away in the third quarter and captured a double-digit victory. Porzingis posted 31 points and 12 rebounds while Russell Westbrook, Anthony, and Paul George combined for 71 points in the win.
5. Since the opening night win, Oklahoma City (14-14) has struggled with consistency. After a loss to Charlotte, the Thunder bounced back to win their last two games, including a marathon contest in Philadelphia last night. Oklahoma City outlasted the Sixers in triple overtime with a 119-117 win. The core players for the Thunder logged significant time on the floor (Westbrook 52 minutes, Steven Adams 51, George 45, Anthony 47) and they complete a three-game east coast trip tonight in New York on the second of a back-to-back. A key stat to watch in this matchup is battle on the offensive glass. Both teams rank in the top ten in this category and in the top five in second chance points.