New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIApril 7, 2013

New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    In what was nothing short of an offensive slugfest, the New York Knicks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 125-120. Carmelo Anthony continued his hot shooting, scoring 36 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the win.

    So how did it all transpire?

    'Melo was complemented by J.R. Smith, whose clutch shooting led to 22 points on the evening. With Raymond Felton flirting with a double-double and Tyson Chandler finding offense, the Knicks had all of the offensive power they needed to win this one.

    As for OKC, Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 37 points to go with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kevin Durant, looking to protect his scoring title, tallied 27 points and dished out seven assists.

    The Knicks move to 50-26, while the Thunder drop to 56-21.

Point Guards

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    Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks: D+

    Pablo Prigioni struggled against the defensive pressure of Russell Westbrook, committing turnovers and losing control of the ball in key situations—including a third quarter in which he made two turnovers on consecutive possessions.

    Such plays opened the door for OKC to storm back and make this a ballgame.

    Outside of those plays, Prigioni was relatively quiet. He did a good job of creating second pass opportunities, but his numbers reflect the overall quality of his play.

    Prigioni tallied three points and three assists in 19 minutes, but also struggled with two key turnovers and three personal fouls.

     

    Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: A+

    Russell Westbrook may have attempted a large volume of field goals, but he converted at a high rate and made superb plays defensively. He had a key third quarter steal on an errant Pablo Prigioni pass and a transition flush to spark the comeback.

    To put it simply, Westbrook was outstanding.

    For the game, the explosive lead guard finished with a game-high 37 points on 15-of-27 shooting. He also flirted with a triple-double, putting up 11 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

    What more could you ask for?

    Every time the Thunder appeared to be falling too far behind, Westbrook came up with an impact play. Whether that was on the defensive end or in transition, Westbrook made his mark on this game with a stellar performance.

    Unfortunately, it didn't lead to a win.

Shooting Guards

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    Raymond Felton, New York Knicks: B+

    Raymond Felton may not have posted statistics on par with Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but he was equally as important. Felton's ability to get into the lane and finish above oncoming defenders was a major reason why.

    His picture-perfect floater over Kendrick Perkins was a prime example.

    Felton's signature moment came during the fourth quarter, as he fell in the lane and still found a way to tip the ball out to J.R. Smith. Smith would hit the three-ball and change the complexity of the game.

    That helped Felton reach totals of 16 points, eight assists, four rebounds and one steal.

     

    Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City Thunder: C+

    Thabo Sefolosha was relatively productive across the board, but he also struggled with foul trouble. That neutralized what appeared to be a promising outing from the Swiss defensive guru.

    Much like Iman Shumpert, Sefolosha's style of play suffered from an up-and-down offense.

    Sefolosha finished with quality numbers, posting eight points, three rebounds, an assist and three steals in 30 minutes. Sefolosha also made two three-point field goals, which displays his ability to contribute offensively.

    Unfortunately, Sefolosha's five fouls were a key factor in the Knicks getting to the line for 24 attempts.

Small Forwards

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    Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks: C-

    If Iman Shumpert's job was to slow down Kevin Durant, he failed to execute. Fortunately for Shumpert, he's one of the dozens who has failed to achieve such.

    That's a major reason why Shumpert saw just 11 minutes.

    With his shot not falling and Durant getting to the line at virtual will, head coach Mike Woodson pulled Shumpert. This resulted in shifting Carmelo Anthony to the perimeter, on most occasions, and thus led to a greater defensive effort on Durant.

    Shumpert's job is safe, but this just wasn't his day.

     

    Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: A-

    Kevin Durant didn't see many field goals fall through the first three quarters of action. A major reason why is because he had already made 10 of 11 free throws by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

    Durant finished with 27 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 13-of-15 from the charity stripe.

    Durant's struggles from the field did hurt, as his seventh field goal came with the game clock winding down and the outcome virtually decided. Furthermore, Durant turned it over four times and grabbed just three rebounds to Carmelo Anthony's 12.

    It doesn't help that 'Melo hit numerous shots in Durant's face.

    With that being said, Durant did tally seven assists and four blocks. On top of that, his efforts at the line kept OKC in it when the Knicks started shooting the lights out.

    This was an all-around solid performance, but far from perfect.

Power Forwards

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    Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: A+

    If you were looking for an encore to Carmelo Anthony's recent hot streak, that's exactly what you received. When he wasn't hitting shots in Kevin Durant's face, 'Melo was rising up over someone else to swish a contested J.

    Believe it or not, his first 31 points came without a single free-throw attempt.

    For the game, 'Melo finished with 36 points on 15-of-29 shooting from the floor. He consistently made shots in Durant's face, overcoming powerful defensive pressure to provide a scoring punch —which was something New York needed as OKC dropped 120 points.

    'Melo's hot shooting came along the perimeter, but his greatest contributions came along the interior. He grabbed nine offensive rebounds and made two key tip-ins to secure this victory.

    Scoring 36 points with 12 rebounds (nine offensive) and one block screams elite.

     

    Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder: B

    Serge Ibaka had difficult matchups throughout the duration of this game, from Carmelo Anthony to Chris Copeland to Tyson Chandler. Regardless of who he was faced with, Ibaka did all he could to make the most of his opportunities.

    Ibaka finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks.

    Ibaka's major gaffs came in his inability to protect the rim, as 'Melo grabbed nine offensive rebounds. Most of those boards came over Ibaka, which is detrimental to his overall grade.

    With that being said, the blocking guru did make a difference defensively—five times, to be exact.

    Unfortunately for Ibaka, this was an offensive-minded game that saw the two teams combine for 245 points. With that in mind, his defensive plays were minimal in impact.

    Dropping 13 points, including a three-point field goal, certainly helps. His work on the glass does not.

Centers

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    Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks: B-

    Tyson Chandler is a defensive-minded player whose contributions to the game have long gone beyond the stat sheet. On a day in which the Oklahoma City Thunder scored 120 points, including 52 in the paint, however, defense was irrelevant.

    Fortunately, Chandler tallied 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed three offensive boards.

    Chandler was active on offense, attacking the backboards and finishing well around the basket. Not only did he score and grab rebounds, but Chandler also boxed out to open lanes for Carmelo Anthony.

    It was a team effort in this one, and Chandler was the ultimate offensive teammate.

     

    Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder: C+

    Kendrick Perkins is a defensive stopper who has never been one to contribute to the stat sheet. With that being said, Perkins found a way to contribute on offense despite playing just 23 minutes in a small-ball-oriented game.

    Five points, five rebounds and four offensive boards display that.

    Perkins struggled to do anything on defense, but that's not particularly his fault. No one on either side played much D in a game in which the two sides combined to shoot 53.2 percent from the floor.

    Even still, Perk played well.

Sixth Men

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    J.R. Smith, New York Knicks: A

    J.R. Smith is known for his uncanny ability to fill up the basket with point after point. Even as his shot wasn't falling, Smith managed to achieve such a feat by getting to the line.

    It doesn't hurt that he hit a crossover, step-back jump shot over the long arms of Kevin Durant to counter a third quarter run by OKC.

    During the fourth quarter, Smith consistently came up with buckets to sink OKC's hopes of a comeback. That includes an insane three-point field goal which came as the shot clock expired, giving him roughly one second to get it off.

    Smith hit that shot en route to 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

     

    Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder: A-

    In terms of pure shooting ability, Kevin Martin has one of the smoothest strokes in the NBA. That was on full display today, as Martin tallied 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.

    Business as usual.

    Martin's sharpshooting was necessary for OKC, as he helped counter New York's marvelous offensive play. With spot-up after spot-up, Martin nearly brought OKC back early in this one.

    Unfortunately, his minutes were limited—had they not been, OKC may have closed this one out.

Reserves

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    New York Knicks: A+

    The New York Knicks' second unit was absolutely sensational, tallying 36 points during the first half alone. That production continued during the second half, and the Knicks bench finished with a collective total of 55 points.

    That's what you call a quality bench outing.

    Chris Copeland and Jason Kidd led the charge, as they combined for 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Copeland was the X-factor during the first half, taking it off of the dribble and exploiting slower defenders.

    This opened the door for the Knicks to push it out to the perimeter and convert from distance.

    Steve Novak contributed two three-pointers of his own, and Kidd made four from beyond the arc. Together, the short-handed bench managed to lead the Knicks to this win.

    It was an incredible performance by an injury-depleted second unit.

     

    Oklahoma City Thunder: B+

    Oklahoma City's bench was unable to counter the Knicks, scoring 30 points in comparison to their 55. With that being said, reserve point guard Reggie Jackson was absolutely sensational.

    Mr. April, anyone?

    Jackson came up with impact buckets during the fourth quarter, scoring at the basket and from the perimeter. For the game, he finished with 13 points, four assists, four rebounds and a block in 21 minutes.

    If only the rest of the bench had showed up with him.