New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Carmelo Anthony tallied 31 points to help the New York Knicks continue their improved play of late with a 100-92 victory over a short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder squad.
Anthony, who sat out Saturday's game at Charlotte to rest his ailing left knee, added 10 rebounds in the Knicks' fourth win in five outings since they lost a franchise-worst 16 in a row from Dec. 14-Jan. 15.
"Execution. I think that's what it came down to," Anthony said. "Defensively, we have been locking in."
While Anthony was back on the court, the Thunder played without reigning league MVP Kevin Durant for a second straight contest due to a sprained left toe.
Russell Westbrook did all he could to offset Durant's absence by pouring in 40 points, which still wasn't enough to prevent Oklahoma City from a potentially costly loss to one of the NBA's bottom-feeding teams.
"We just gave them too many opportunities," Westbrook said. "They got a lot of offensive rebounds. (We) made some mistakes defensively."
Langston Galloway chipped in 18 points for New York, while former Thunder forward Lance Thomas put up a season-best 17 against the team that traded him to the Knicks earlier this month.
New York trailed 71-70 early in the fourth quarter and were clinging to a one- point lead shortly thereafter before Tim Hardaway Jr. nailed consecutive treys to jump-start an 8-0 run that staked the Knicks to an 82-73 advantage with six minutes left.
Westbrook scored the next seven points to single-handedly close the gap, but New York countered with a back-breaking 10-0 sequence that Hardaway, who netted 11 of his 14 points in the final frame, capped with another triple that put the Knicks up 92-80 with 2:35 remaining.
The Thunder put themselves in an early bind with a sloppy first quarter in which they turned it over eight times and were down 17-11 just over seven minutes in. Oklahoma City closed out the period on an 8-3 flurry to pull within one, however, and an 11-2 surge capped by Reggie Jackson's steal and run-out slam near the midway mark of the second gave the visitors a 32-24 lead.
Anthony and Galloway then led the Knicks on a 13-4 run, with the latter's triple with 3:08 to go in the half putting New York back in front. The Thunder answered on back-to-back buckets from Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, though, and went into the break owning a slim 45-43 edge.
The game remained extremely tight throughout the third quarter, which featured six lead changes and neither team ahead by more than four points. A Dion Waiters 3-pointer with 41.2 seconds left sent the Thunder up by two, but Hardaway countered with a trey of his own on the other end to send the Knicks into the fourth holding a 68-67 lead.
Westbrook also had 40 points in a 115-111 Thunder loss to Portland on Dec. 23 ... The Thunder fell to 9-16 this season when Durant misses a game ... Jason Smith posted an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Knicks, while Lou Amundson finished with 10 boards and four blocks in the win ... Oklahoma City had won the last three meetings between the teams by an average of 22.6 points ... Guard Jose Calderson also returned for New York after missing the Charlotte game with a bruised knee, recording eight assists in 27 minutes.