'Melo Leads Knicks to 12th Straight Win as NY Beats Thunder

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP

    Carmelo Anthony had 36 points and 12 rebounds, J.R. Smith hit a pair of shot-clock beaters in the final two minutes and the Knicks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 125-120 on Sunday for their 12th straight win.

    Smith connected on a 23-foot jumper from the right wing as the 24-second clock expired to put New York up 117-113 with 1:30 to play, then swished a 3-pointer with 56.8 seconds left that all but sealed New York's 50th win of the season.

    It's the first time the Knicks have reached the landmark in 13 years.

    Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which fell a game behind San Antonio for first place in the West with five games left.

    Kevin Durant scored 27, falling behind Anthony in the NBA scoring race.

    Anthony came up with a season-high nine of his 12 rebounds on the offensive end as the Knicks amassed 23 points off of 19 offensive boards. Anthony's last three baskets came on tip-ins. He twice put back his own misses, then tipped in Smith's missed free throw in the final minutes to help close it out.

    Smith had 22 points, Raymond Felton scored 16 with eight assists and Tyson Chandler chipped in 15 points as Oklahoma City allowed its most points of the season.

    Anthony, playing at Oklahoma City for the first time since April 2010, added to one of the more colorful histories of any visiting player despite failing to extend his run of 40-point games to four. He tied Bernard King's Knicks record with three in a row, going for 50, 40 and 41 in his previous three games.

    Anthony hit game-winners in the closing seconds of Denver's only two games at Oklahoma City in 2009, then was knocked unconscious in the third quarter before returning in the fourth as the Nuggets rallied to win the 2010 game.

    He had missed his final chance with the Nuggets after his sister's death and then sat out last season's meeting because of wrist and ankle injuries.

    After Oklahoma City had rallied from 12 down to take a 105-104 lead on Durant's jumper in the lane with 6:57 remaining, the Knicks didn't allow Durant to score again while Anthony's relentlessness on the boards paid off. He twice stretched one-point leads with tip-ins of his own misses before Smith finally provided a bigger cushion.

    Anthony's scoring average improved a tenth of a point to 28.44, while Durant's stayed about the same at 28.35.

    It was just the sixth home loss for the Thunder, who snapped a string of 21 straight games at Chesapeake Energy Arena that had been decided by double digits — 18 wins, three losses.

    The Knicks allowed a 16-5 spurt by the Thunder and then lost Anthony — the third New York starter to pick up two fouls in the opening 8 minutes — but still were able to rally back from a 21-14 hole behind three 3-pointers from Jason Kidd and take the lead late in a fast-paced first quarter.

    New York's reserves opened the second quarter with a 9-3 spurt, and Anthony hit a left-wing jumper and a transition 3-pointer in a string of seven straight Knicks points that bumped the lead out to a dozen. Chandler's two-handed slam of Smith's alley-oop made it 65-53 in the final minute of the first half before Oklahoma City got the final three points of the half on free throws.

    Westbrook had a pair of steals to spark a quick string of six straight Thunder points early in the third quarter, and Oklahoma City was able to whittle a 12-point New York lead down to one five different times before Anthony hit a 3-pointer and then put back his own miss to provide some cushion. Smith followed with a fallaway jumper to make it 91-83.

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