Thunder 121, Knicks 118, OT
Tracy McGrady’s dazzling debut was just about everything the New
York Knicks could have hoped for.
It just wasn’t enough to stop Kevin Durant and the surging
Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant scored 36 points and made the go-ahead jumper with 16
seconds left in overtime, and the Thunder beat New York 121-118
Saturday night for their eighth straight victory.
“We knew there was going to be a lot of energy in the building
with Tracy McGrady coming in,” Durant said. “He played
phenomenal. He’s back. He played well, but I’ll take the win.”
McGrady scored 26 points in his first game since the Knicks
acquired him Thursday at the trade deadline. But he was on the
bench for almost all of overtime, perhaps exhausted after playing
32 minutes in his first action since December.
“He kind of ran out gas towards the end,” Knicks coach Mike
D’Antoni said. “Not having played all year, a couple of years
almost, 26 points, kind of not bad.”
Durant also hit the tying 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in
regulation of his 27th consecutive game with at least 25 points,
the longest streak since Allen Iverson also did it in 27 in a row
from Jan. 12-March 9, 2001. The last longer streak was by Michael
Jordan in 40 straight in the 1986-87 season.
Russell Westbrook finished with 31 points, 10 assists and nine
rebounds in the longest winning streak for the Thunder franchise
since a nine-game run early in the 2004-05 season. Jeff Green had
16 points and 11 rebounds.
“Everybody lives for nights like this,” Westbrook said.
“Basketball players live for overtime game, big shots, things like
David Lee had 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who blew
a six-point lead late in regulation and lost their sixth straight.
Eddie House, also acquired at the trade deadline, scored a
season-high 24 points.
McGrady had his first 25-point game since Jan. 9, 2009, when he
had 26 for Houston at Oklahoma City, about a month before
season-ending microfracture surgery. He hoped to play 25-30 minutes
and said he surpassed his own expectations.
“I didn’t expect to play the way I did,” McGrady said. “I
expected to move the way I was out there, but as far as being
efficient offensively, playing that many minutes, no.”
His chance for a winning return to action in just his seventh
game this season was wrecked by Durant, the sensational swingman
who was often compared to McGrady when he came into the NBA three
McGrady was sitting and the Knicks trailed by five with about 8
minutes remaining when a loud “We want T-Mac!” chant broke out.
He returned about 1 1/2 minutes later and helped the Knicks build a
six-point lead, but he missed two costly free throws with 1:05
A 3-pointer by Green and a layup by Westbrook cut it to 103-102
with 26 seconds to play. House made two free throws, but Durant
buried a 3 to knot it at 105. Danilo Gallinari was short on a
potential winning 3 to force overtime.
New York had its final lead of the extra period after House’s
jumper with 30 seconds left before Durant’s jumper made it 119-118.
Wilson Chandler was short on a drive, Durant sank two free throws,
and House and Gallinari missed 3-pointers that could have forced
The Knicks acquired McGrady on Thursday in a three-team deal
with Houston and Sacramento. House came in a trade that sent
popular backup Nate Robinson to Boston.
Though the primary benefit of the three-team trade was salary
cap positioning for the summer, the Knicks are anxious to see what
McGrady has left in the final 29 games and if he’s an option for
next season – especially if he was serious Friday when he said he
would be willing to take a significant pay cut from this season’s
$22.5 million salary if the Knicks can sign a couple of marquee
free agents from a class that could be led by LeBron James and
There was a buzz at Madison Square Garden that’s largely been
missing after the All-Star break in recent years. Wearing No. 3 –
last seen in New York on Stephon Marbury – McGrady was loudly
cheered as the last player introduced during starting lineups, and
the crowd roared again when he touched the ball on New York’s first
McGrady motioned to D’Antoni that he was ready for a sub about
midway through the first quarter, then returned late in the period
for a strong finish. He banked in jumper – perhaps mistakenly,
judging by the sheepish look on his face – then grabbed the rebound
on the next defensive end and threw a long bounce pass in
transition to a streaking Al Harrington for a layup and a
McGrady scored 10 points in the period, matching his season
high, and the Knicks led 31-25. He made a 3-pointer and long jumper
on the Knicks’ final two possessions of the first half for a 57-52
James Harden’s free throws with 7.3 seconds left gave Oklahoma
City an 82-80 edge heading to the fourth period.
NOTES: The Thunder have won the last three meetings. … The
Knicks will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their 1969-70 NBA
championship team Monday night against Milwaukee.