Published — Saturday 9 March 2013
Last update 9 March 2013 2:31 am
NEW YORK: Kevin Durant hit the go-ahead free throws with 1:38 remaining to lift Oklahoma City to a 95-94 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday night, giving the Thunder their sixth win in their last seven games.
Durant finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and a half dozen assists for the Thunder in front of a crowd of 19,033 at Madison Square Garden.
After the free throws, Raymond Felton turned the ball over on the Knicks’ ensuing possession. JR Smith then followed by missing a three-pointer.
With the Thunder still ahead by one, Durant missed a shot with eight seconds left in the fourth and the Knicks called a timeout.
After the short break, New York worked the ball to Smith who ran down the clock then put up a 20-foot jump shot from the left side that bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
Guard Smith finished with a game-high 36 points, while Felton and Amare Stoudemire had 16 points each for the Knicks, who had just 13 points in the fourth.
The Thunder have won three in a row, but the Knicks made them work for the victory Thursday unlike their previous four wins where they dominated with an average margin of victory of 27.0 points.
The Knicks were missing star forward Carmelo Anthony for the second-straight game.
Anthony hurt his knee Monday in a win at Cleveland against the Cavaliers. He left in the second quarter of that contest after he tripped over his own feet, wrenching his knee.
If Anthony had played, the game would have featured the NBA’s two top scorers, Durant and Anthony. The two are separated by less than a point per game average.
New York recently finished off an undefeated road trip with wins over Cleveland and Detroit.
The Thunder have now won three straight over New York and five of their last six.
The Knicks are among the National Basketball Association’s best at committing the fewest turnovers. They had 13 turnovers compared to 16 for the Thunder on Thursday.
In Denver, The Denver Nuggets routed the surging Los Angeles Clippers 107-92, riding 21 points from Ty Lawson and 20 from Danilo Gallinari to their 12th straight home win.
Seven Nuggets scored in double figures as Denver won its seventh straight overall and improved to 27-3 at home, tied with the Miami Heat for best in the league. Lawson also had 11 assists.
Despite 19 points from Matt Barnes and 17 from Blake Griffin, the Clippers’ five-game road winning streak came to an end.
More importantly, they lost the season series to the Nuggets 2-1, a tiebreaker that could come into play if Denver can catch them for the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Right now, the Nuggets are in fifth, behind Memphis.
Chris Paul had 16 points and 10 assists for Los Angeles.
A bucket by Griffin, who was coming off his third career triple-double, gave the Clippers a 60-59 lead before the Nuggets scored 20 of the next 24 points to grab control.