Oklahoma City, OK – Carmelo Anthony fell short of the 40- point plateau, but the Knicks managed to win their 12th straight game, and accomplished the feat against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Anthony scored 36, as the Knicks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 125-120, Sunday afternoon.
Anthony, who scored 40-plus points in each of the previous three games, shot 15-of-29 from the field and had 12 rebounds, nine of them offensive.
J.R. Smith hit a pair of big shots during an 11-2 run late in the final quarter. He had 22 points for the Knicks, who secured their first 50-win season since 1999-2000. Their magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division title is one.
The Knicks, who also broke a five-game road losing streak versus the Thunder, received 16 points and eight assists from Raymond Felton. Tyson Chandler scored 15, Jason Kidd 14 and Chris Copeland 13.
Russell Westbrook scored 37, pulled down 11 rebounds and had eight assists for the Thunder, who had a three-game winning streak broken. Kevin Durant, who came into the game essentially neck-and-neck with Anthony for the league's scoring lead, had 27 points and seven assists.
The result put the Thunder a game behind San Antonio for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Westbrook's layup put the Thunder on top, 111-110 with four minutes remaining, but Smith canned a pair of shot clock-beating shots to lift New York.
Chandler converted a layup at the other end and then blocked a Westbrook jumper. Anthony's tip-in created a 3-point margin.
After Westbrook hit a pull-up shot, Smith just beat the shot clock for a 117-113 difference with 1 1/2 minutes left. Following a Westbrook missed 3- pointer, Smith made the Thunder pay again. Felton lost the ball in the lane, but batted it back to Smith, who drained a 3-ball with 56.8 seconds left for the game-sealing 120-113 margin.
"He makes plays like that. He makes tough shots. Sometimes I think he likes to take the tougher shot than the easier shot. They still go in," said Anthony.
The Knicks haven't lost since March 17 at the LA Clippers. Their current win streak is third-longest in team history and most since a 15-game run in the 1993-94 season.
Oklahoma City made 11 of its 17 shots in the opening quarter to take a 31-30 edge after 12 minutes. The Knicks turned it around in the second with a 13- of-22 effort for a 65-56 advantage at halftime. Anthony and Copeland each scored 11 in the period.
Chandler's alley-oop jam off a feed from Smith created a 12-point lead inside of a minute left in the half.
OKC was as close as one in the third, but the Knicks widened the gap in the latter stages and were up 96-89 going to the fourth.
"We're good. We've got five more games to go," said Durant. "We lost a tough one. This team, they shot the ball well tonight. They hit some tough shots all night."
Durant has scored 20-plus points in each of the last 15 games for an OKC team that is 33-6 as the host. ... Kevin Martin had 15 points, while Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson each had 13 for the Thunder, who shot 57.7 percent ... The Knicks were 15-of-34 from 3-point range.