The road-weary Knicks, losers of five straight and just 24 hours removed from a loss to the Spurs, will have to pick themselves up for another battle tonight in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are a young, preposterously athletic team with a quiver full of offensive weapons that can score at any pace. They've lost two straight in Los Angeles and Denver, but are a solid (15-6) home team and sit atop the Northwest division.
Like the Spurs, OKC also has an embarrassing loss to the Knicks in their rearview mirror. New York broke their previous losing streak (a three-game slide that included a total collapse against Cleveland) by smothering the Thunder at Madison Square Garden in December. Those well-rested Knicks passed the ball beautifully, moved their feet on defense, and won with balanced scoring and a big boost from the bench. These slumping Knicks won't have the same benefit of rested legs, but they're certainly frustrated with their team-wide slump. At times, it's felt like New York has executed solidly but failed to convert the usual shots. Chief among the slumping scorers is Amar'e Stoudemire, who was harassed to no end by Chuck Hayes and DeJuan Blair in the last two games. Assuming that Mike D'Antoni sticks with last night's lineup, Amar'e will see some combination of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison, and Serge Ibaka. There's plenty of feistiness in that crew, but tonight may present an opportunity for Stoudemire to get back on track.
Tip-off is at 8 PM EST on MSG. See Posting and Toasting for more Knicks coverage.