Not only was there no Kevin Durant versus Carmelo Anthony showdown, there was not much of a game, either.
The Oklahoma City Thunder made sure of it with the most dominant performance ever by a road team at Christmas.
Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by the middle of the third quarter as the Thunder rolled to a 123-94 victory on Wednesday over the New York Knicks.
The 29-point victory was the largest for a road team at Christmas.
“I just know that if we play the way we play, team basketball, Thunder basketball, not too many teams that can beat us,” Westbrook said.
The Knicks, without Anthony, were not one of them.
The matchup between the NBA’s top two scorers was canceled because of Anthony’s sprained left ankle, so the Thunder had the Christmas spotlight all to themselves while winning for the 10th time in 11 games.
Westbrook finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in his first triple-double of the season and the seventh of his career. Serge Ibaka added 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting as the Thunder left a sellout crowd of 19,812 booing the home team, or making no noise at all.
“I said that on the bench, I was like: ‘Man, it feels like nobody’s in here,’” Durant said.
Amare Stoudemire scored a season-high 22 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr had 21 for the Knicks, who also were missing starting point guard Raymond Felton. J.R. Smith scored 20 points, but shot eight for 22 and was booed when he left the court for good.
Anthony sat out for the first time this season. The Knicks were never really in it without him and may not have had a chance with him the way the Thunder played.
“Defensively, we just weren’t there tonight,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
The Knicks not only had trouble with the Thunder, but also with the special edition sleeved jerseys NBA teams are wearing at Christmas.
Beno Udrih hit the side of the backboard on two shot attempts in the first half, tugging on his sleeve after the second as if blaming his struggles on his equipment.
Oklahoma City had a much easier time in the uniforms. Coach Scott Brooks said before the game the Thunder had not had a formal practice in them, but the players had shot around the previous few days in the jerseys that featured a giant logo in the middle of the chest and jersey numbers on the left sleeve.
“They look great. Hopefully, we play well in them,” Brooks said.
They played superbly.
Coming off a 104-98 loss to Toronto on Sunday that ended a nine-game winning streak and was their first setback at home this season, they shot 54 percent and got 18 points from Reggie Jackson.
Durant made all five shots in the first quarter, with the Thunder leading 35-29 after shooting 70 percent.
Jackson and Durant made three-pointers to start the second, making Oklahoma City 16 of 22. Ibaka did most of the work in an 8-2 spurt midway through the period that extended the lead to 17 and the Thunder led 60-46 at halftime.
Durant and Westbrook took turns being unguardable on the perimeter in the third quarter, boos growing louder as Oklahoma City went on to their sixth straight road victory.
“I mean, I’m disappointed with them. Honestly, my disappointment probably outweighs theirs,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said about the fans. “It is what it is. They come out here to see a show and they come here to see their team play hard, and I understand it.”
Anthony was hurt on Monday night in a victory at Orlando, saying afterward he hoped to play on Wednesday, but he looked glum and was not walking particularly well after getting treatment and testing the ankle, and the Knicks announced he would not be in uniform about 50 minutes before the start.
He sat on the bench, getting up slowly during timeouts whenever the Knicks called them in a futile attempt to stop the Thunder’s onslaught.
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