Um, no. (Note to Sports Illustrated: the Hornets haven’t been in Oklahoma City for quite a while.) But Tracy McGrady indeed got the start despite having played only 48 minutes all year, which suggests that the Knicks weren’t just renting his expiring contract after all. And when the camera fell on T-Mac after a couple of makes, his face said exactly one thing: “God, I love this game.”
He had good reason to. McGrady, looking very much like the T-Mac of old, played 32 minutes and scored 26 points. If he was auditioning for next season, he’s made a hell of a good start on it, and the New York crowd has already warmed to him: with the game knotted early in the fourth, the Garden resounded with calls of “We want T-Mac!” The Knicks, playing not at all like a team with 30-plus losses at the All-Star break, or like a team that just blew itself up for the sake of cap space, forged a six-point lead with a minute left, only to see the Thunder tie it at 105 in the waning seconds of regulation. And in the end, not even T-Mac could keep a lid on Kevin Durant, who scored the last five points to give OKC a 121-118 overtime win.
The new-look Knicks, though, are going to be a force to contend with the rest of the way, and I’m glad we don’t have to play them again this season. David Lee, not a factor at the Ford Center, rolled up 30 points and 10 rebounds at home, and newly-arrived sharpshooter Eddie House added 24 from the bench. Fortunately for the Thunder, the Knicks’ distance shooting was off: New York connected on only eight of 29 treys, though overall the Knicks shot a percentage point better than the Thunder.
The OKC Big Three had to be bigger than usual tonight. Durant wound up with 36 points, which makes 27 games in a row at 25 or more; Russell Westbrook (31 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (16 points, 11 boards) registered double-doubles.
We’re in the middle of a back-to-back; Sunday’s game is at Minnesota. The rest of the month will be dizzying, in terms of travel: Tuesday at home against the Suns; Wednesday at San Antonio; back home Friday against the T-Wolves again; and Sunday at Toronto.