The New York Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony for the second consecutive game Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder and despite the heroics of J.R. Smith, the result was a familiar tough loss for the Knickerbockers, losing 95-94 to the defending Western Conference champions as Smith’s game-winning shot attempt clanged off the back iron on a poorly designed play coming out of a timeout.
The Knicks once again had problems defending the oppositions point guard, as Russell Westbrook scored 15 first quarter points to eventually give OKC and 11-point lead before Smith got hot by dropping 18 second-quarter points to pull the Knicks within three at 59-56.
A 1-for-14 beginning to the third quarter could have hurt, but the Knicks defended as well as they have all season and only trailed by five before Smith started carrying the team again and eventually got the Knicks a six-point lead.
But the Knicks couldn’t hold it despite one of their best efforts of the season.
New York shot only 40.7 percent from the floor on the night, while allowing OKC to shoot 44.3 percent. In addition the Knicks were outrebounded 42-38 and they dished out only 10 assists on the night which shows how little the ball moved.
With that being said, here’s a look at how each Knicks player graded out in this tough loss.
Raymond Felton (16 points, 6-of-16 shooting, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 4 turnovers)
Felton wasn’t nearly as efficient as he was Wednesday night against Detroit. Twelve of his points came in the first half, but the he missed eight of his next nine shots and ended up just 1-of-8 from three-point range. The turnovers are starting to pile up for Felton and his last one was costly with the Knicks trailing by just one with 90 seconds left. In addition, opposing point guards continue to torch him as the combination of Westbrook and Reggie Jackson combined for 29 points. Grade: C
Iman Shumpert (2 points, 1-of-7 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 steal)
Shump looked slow on the second day of a back-to-back and shot the ball poorly. He also did very little to impact the game and once again had the Knicks worst plus-minus rating of minus-11. Grade: D
James White (6 points, 2-of-5 shooting)
White came into the night having started all four games in March, but has averaged just 7.5 minutes and 0.5 points in those contests. I will take a pair of three’s and some decent defense in 12 minutes. Grade: C+
Kurt Thomas (2 points, 1-of-2 shooting, 2 rebounds)
Thomas again started but played only five minutes, but he made a jumper and grabbed a pair of rebounds in that short span. He can’t be asked to do much more in only a couple minutes of playing time. Grade: C
Tyson Chandler (9 points, 3-of-4 shooting, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 turnovers)
Chandler had a very slow first half with only just five points and three rebounds, but he was much better in the second half looking like the usual active Chandler. With the way he finishes around the rim, the Knicks have to find a way to get him a more than four shot attempts. I would like to see that number somewhere between seven and eight per night. But other than that it was a productive night from Chandler except his rare four turnovers were costly. Grade: B
Amar’e Stoudemire (16 points, 5-of-16 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks)
STAT wasn’t nearly as efficient as he has been during the past few weeks, but still finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Playing 29 minutes in the second game of a back-to-back could have had something to do with that. But he was active at both ends of the floor. Stoudemire was caught sleeping a few times defensively but also made some hustle plays, including a big block of Derek Fisher on a breakaway layup. Grade: B+
J.R. Smith (36 points, 14-of-29 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals)
That was more like it for Smith. He did force a few shots, including the final one, but for the most part he played under control. Smith had to create some for himself but a lot of the time he took shots within the flow of the offense, even though the ball was primarily in his hands. He did miss the game winner, but his coach could have done a much better job to put him in a better position to get a better shot. Hopefully Smith can play this way going forward instead of reverting back to his freelancing ways. Grade: A+
Steve Novak (3 points, 1-of-2 shooting, 2 rebounds, 1 steal)
Novak hit a three and tallied a steal in the first half, but the lowlight was his attempt to draw a foul by jumping into the defender, but changed his mind mid-air and try a pass that was stolen. Novak did not attempt a shot in the second half as the Knicks needed some more from him in his 13 minutes on the floor. Grade: C-
Jason Kidd (0 points, 0-of-2 shooting, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block)
If Kidd finds a way to get into the scoring column, the Knicks likely win the game as the future Hall of Famer did not attempt a shot in the first half. But he did grab 10 rebounds and contributed in other areas in usual Kidd fashion. Grade: B-
Kenyon Martin (4 points, 2-of-3 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 steal)
In only Martin’s second appearance in a Knicks uniform, he left an impression in his 17 minutes. K-Mart was very energetic and played solid defense, at times matched against scoring leader Kevin Durant. Martin showed that he could contribute offensively as well as his putback slam late in the second quarter pulled the Knicks within four points, and then tied the game with an alley-oop layup shortly thereafter. Grade: B
Pablo Prigioni: DNP (Coach’s Decision)
Marcus Camby: DNP (Coach’s Decision)
Chris Copeland: DNP (Coach’s Decision)
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