Durant's 44 points leads Thunder past Knicks

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 00:00:10-05

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant heard all about Golden State and San Antonio the last few days, and isn't bothered the NBA's best have been hogging all the headlines.

"We just try to worry about us and what we could do every single day to get better," he said.

Hard to imagine him being much better than he was Tuesday.


Durant scored a season-high 44 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 128-122 in overtime.

Durant hit the tying jumper with 16.2 seconds left in regulation, then scored seven points in overtime to surpass the 43 points he had against Orlando on Oct. 30, a game that went to two overtimes.

One was all the Thunder needed this time, as Durant hit four straight free throws in the final half-minute to finish 16 for 18 from the line.

"Just be calm in those situations, man," Durant said. "Worst that can happen is you lose the basketball game."

He wouldn't let them.

Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who bounced back from a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday to win for the eighth time in nine games. Oklahoma City never trailed in OT after Westbrook opened the scoring with a basket.

"We've been here before," Westbrook said. "We have a lot of older guys that know what to do and we did a good job of playing the right way."

Langston Galloway scored 21 points for the Knicks, who played without injured leading scorer Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Williams added 19 points and 10 rebounds, but the Knicks couldn't hold on after leading by 11 in the fourth quarter.

Durant helped wipe that lead away, then did it again when the Knicks recovered to go back ahead by four in the final minute of regulation.

"I've been watching him growing up now the past few years, learning his game," Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis said. "He just did what he does. That's KD."

Serge Ibaka had 12 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who got a boost with the earlier-than-expected return of starting center Steven Adams from a sprained right elbow that was expected to keep him out for at least two more games. He had nine points and eight boards.

Arron Afflalo scored 17 points for the Knicks but shot 6 for 21, with the potential winner going in and out before the regulation buzzer.

Anthony sat out the Knicks' third straight loss because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Lance Thomas returned from a three-game absence with his own sore left knee to replace Anthony in the lineup.

The Knicks took a 91-88 lead through three quarters, then opened the fourth with eight straight points to go up by 11 with 9 ½ minutes to play. Cameron Payne hit a couple of 3-pointers to steady the Thunder before Durant heated up later in the period.

He made a couple of 3-pointers and a driving dunk past Porzingis, but the Knicks seemed to have withstood his rally when Williams' dunk put them up 113-109 with 59 seconds remaining.

Ibaka scored on an offensive rebound, and Afflalo missed before Durant tied it with a jumper. The Knicks nearly won it, but Afflalo's turnaround jumper from the corner went in and out just before the buzzer.


Thunder: Dion Waiters started for the injured Andre Roberson, who could miss at least three weeks with a sprained right knee, but coach Billy Donovan wouldn't commit to him remaining the starter during Roberson's absence, saying the former No. 4 overall pick had developed good chemistry with the second unit.

Knicks: Anthony missed his fifth game of the season. The last two were earlier this month because of a sprained right ankle, and coach Derek Fisher thought that may have changed Anthony's mechanics and caused the discomfort in his left knee. ... New York fell to 18-5 when leading after the third quarter.


Fisher said Anthony was hurting after the Knicks played a double-overtime and an overtime game last week, with Anthony logging 49 and 42 minutes in them. Fisher said he believed the extra work "just kind of caught up to him," so Anthony was held out of a game after originally being listed as probable. Fisher said the team will continue to treat and evaluate Anthony, saying it could just be a day-to-day injury.


Thunder: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday

Knicks: Visit Toronto on Thursday.