Knicks Beat A Road-Weary Okie City At Garden

Published on: 23rd December, 2010


Thunder Knicks Basketball
Knicks Beat A Road-Weary Okie City At Garden

New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) defends as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) passes in the second half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. The Knicks defeated the Thunder 112-98. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Original Filename: Thunder Knicks Basketball.JPEG-0873f.jpg  | read this item

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New York — Through these first 29 games of this, his rookie season in the NBA with the New York Knicks, Landry Fields seems to have figured out how to become an integral part of the team’s success. Perhaps, it is the fact he stayed in college (Stanford) for four years, developing a maturity and understanding of the game many rookies simply don’t have the experience to call on.  

But, whatever it is, the kid is so far doing whatever his team needs him to do to win games.

Fields figured things out pretty well tonight against the ultra-talented Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 rebounds as the Knicks took advantage of an Oklahoma City team that was playing back-to-back road games, winning 112-98.

The Thunder had played last night in Charlotte, beating the Bobcats in Larry Brown’s final game as Charlotte’s head coach but even with their young legs, led by superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they looked weary tonight in the Garden.

Fields recorded his seventh double double of the season, hitting that statistical benchmark in almost 25% of his games. He entered play tonight tied for eighth among guards in double doubles and is the leading rebounder among guards in the league.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has noticed the 6’7″ gem he’s got starting at the two-guard position, a second round draft choice at that.

“The rebounding is something he just does,” said D’Antoni. “He just figures out what the team needs. He is working on his threes and he keep improving defensively and offensively.”

Fields’ game has gotten to the point where his name has been floated around the league for several weeks now in any discussion of the Knicks acquiring Denver star, Carmelo Anthony before the February 24th NBA trade deadline. It’s not lost on Fields, who occasionally reads the papers and the internet reports.

“I really haven’t paid attention to it, that much,” said Fields. “It goes through your mind but at the end of the day, I try to tune it all out. If there was no internet and all the media around, this wouldn’t be an issue.”

I mentioned to him that this wasn’t the good old days when there wasn’t a 24-hour news cycle.

The Stanford grad looked at me and muttered, “I wish we could build a time machine and go back to those good old days. This stuff is just a distraction but I’m pretty good at tuning it out.”

“He is a smart player and he can be a great player,” said D’Antoni. “He is what all coaches want….a glue guy. He can be a great player on a good team, let’s put it that way.”

New York got its transition game going late in the first half, never really slowed down in the second, and beat the Thunder for the first time in four meetings.

In a game featuring the NBA’s top two scorers, Amar”e Stoudemire nearly matched league leader Durant, who finished with 26. But Stoudemire had far more help, with the Knicks putting six players in double figures. Raymond Felton added 12 points and 10 assists.

D’Antoni wanted to get his top players more rest, and he was able to empty his bench for one of the rare times this season as New York outscored Oklahoma City 16-5 in fast-break points.

Westbrook added 23 points for the Thunder, who lost for the second time in eight games.

The Knicks bounced back after their eight-game winning streak was followed by losses to Boston, Miami and Cleveland last week. This was the opener of another difficult stretch, which includes a visit from Chicago on Christmas before a trip to Florida next week for games against Miami and Orlando.

Instead, it wasn’t so tough at all. The Knicks scored easily and made a number of solid plays on defense, delighting a crowd that’s used them struggling on that end. Stoudemire earned a rousing ovation for a block of Westbrook’s fast-break layup attempt with about 8 1/2 minutes left, and the applause kept going when his teammates hustled back and forced a couple of more misses.

Durant and Stoudemire both started quickly, with Durant scoring 13 points and Stoudemire 10 as Oklahoma City took a 28-27 lead after one quarter. It remained close for nearly all the second until the Thunder’s legs suddenly stopped running.

With the Knicks up by two, Fields made a 3-pointer, then Felton blew by the Thunder for a layup and then Stoudemire sprinted past them to catch an alley-oop pass from Felton for a dunk and a 60-51 lead. The Knicks pushed it again on their next trip, with Felton finding Danilo Gallinari for a 3-pointer in the corner for a 3-pointer that capped a 10-0 spurt.

Westbrook had the final two baskets of the half to cut it to 63-55.

The Knicks quickly blew it open again, using a 15-2 spurt to open an 80-61 bulge on Felton’s fast-break layup with 6:20 left in the third quarter. New York led by 12 after three and pushed the advantage into the 20s midway through the fourth.

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