Actually, we didn’t see J. R. Smith until the second quarter, but the streakiest shooter in the NBA was having one of his streakiest streaks: 33 points in the next 30 minutes. (With six minutes left, J. R. had piled up the same number of points as all five New York starters.) When the Thunder finally managed to slow Smith’s progress, he complained; both Smith and Thabo Sefolosha, who’d been doing the slowing, wound up with technicals. And the Knicks had been doing a pretty good job of slowing the Thunder; Russell Westbrook, who’d had 19 points in the first half, was limited to two in the second, though Kevin Durant did his best to pick up the slack, scoring 21 of his 34 in the second half. With 38 seconds left, OKC clung to a 95-94 lead; Smith somehow missed a trey from the left wing, Durant got a good look but nothing more, and finally Westbrook disrupted Smith’s last-second fadeaway, leaving the Thunder out of breath but victorious.
Smith finished with a game-high 36, though Durant was right behind. The difference, though, may have been Kevin Martin. All season, K-Mart has been more effective at home than on the road; but tonight in the Garden, he made his relatively few shots count, going 4-6 for 16 points. OKC shot a mundane 44 percent from the floor; the Knicks barely broke 40, and apart from Smith’s 14-29 they didn’t break 37. And maybe the most interesting line of the night was Jason Kidd’s: he took only two shots, missed them both, but hauled in ten rebounds.
Tomorrow night against the Bobcats, who have had a rough time of it of late; the Admiral Ackbar sign is probably going up on the team plane to Charlotte.