Thunder-Knicks Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been giving away Christmas Day

road games since the franchise’s time in Seattle.

Burdened with an unwanted tradition, the Thunder will spend this

Christmas at Madison Square Garden looking to snap a 10-game skid

in road games played on the holiday when they face the New York

Knicks.

Oklahoma City (22-5) may find the task a bit easier if Carmelo

Anthony is in street clothes after the Knicks’ leading scorer left

Monday’s 103-98 win over Orlando with a sprained left ankle.

Anthony will be a game-time decision, and his presence has made

all the difference for the teams he’s played for when facing the

Thunder. Dating to his time in Denver, he has won nine straight

against them and averaged 30.2 points. With Anthony out of the

lineup, his teams have lost four straight matchups.

“Hopefully I’ll be there,” Anthony said after leading the Knicks

with 19 points against the Magic. “I don’t want to miss that game.

It’s Christmas in the Garden. I don’t want to miss that game.”

Point guard Raymond Felton, meanwhile, has already been ruled

out with a strained right groin. He was playing his first game back

after a six-game absence due to a strained left hamstring when he

tweaked the groin in the fourth quarter.

“I’m concerned (about Anthony), but I’m not as worried about him

as I’m worried about Ray, the way he came back and then to go down

again. It’s tough,” Knicks forward J.R. Smith said. “He’s our point

guard, for sure.”

Smith added 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting against the Magic.

While injuries have limited the Knicks (9-18) all season, the

Thunder suffered a setback in the standings Sunday when they

snapped a nine-game winning streak with a 104-98 home loss to

Toronto.

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points, while Kevin

Durant added 24 on a season-worst 5-of-16 shooting.

Oklahoma City’s 36.8 percent night was its worst regular-season

mark at home since hitting 34.3 percent on Nov. 1, 2009 against

Portland.

“Losses happen in this league,” Durant said. “They beat us fair

and square, you know? We missed some shots, too. I think our

defense was good. They got some shots late in the fourth quarter

that helped them a little bit but I think our defense was good. We

were swarming them and they hit some tough ones, too, but we missed

some good looks.”

Still, the Thunder have won 17 of 19 and present a difficult

task for the hobbled Knicks. The loss to the Raptors was their

first in eight games this season against the Eastern

Conference.

Oklahoma City has also won eight straight on the road against

the East dating to last season, a streak that started with a 95-94

victory at the Garden on March 7 – a game that Anthony sat out due

to a sore right knee.

The Knicks, who have won their last two at home on Christmas,

are looking to win consecutive games for the second time this

season. They are 0-8 against the West, however, losing those games

by an average of 10.1 points. New York has scored 100 or more just

twice in those games, and Oklahoma City is 15-0 when holding

opponents to double digits.

The teams split two games last season with the road team winning

each.