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News » THUNDER 107, KNICKS 99 2009-01-09

THUNDER 107, KNICKS 99 2009-01-09

THUNDER 107, KNICKS 99 2009-01-09
With the Thunder nursing a four-point lead with 1:15 remaining in Tuesday night's 107-99 win over the New York Knicks, Jeff Green strolled to the free-throw line with a chance to extend Oklahoma City's cushion to six.

When Green misfired on the first attempt, his third straight miss from the foul line after making his first seven, veteran forward Joe Smith got in Green's face and not-so-politely encouraged the second-year forward to help ice the game.

The exchange embodied a newfound accountability Thunder players have embraced, policing themselves instead of waiting for coaches to condemn mistakes by barking orders from the sidelines.

"That's what good teams do," Smith said. "You can't take anything your teammates say personally because we're all out there trying to do the same thing. We're trying to get as many wins as we can. The good teams I've been on, you brush that off and you're off to the next game."

Using that approach, Oklahoma City bumped its record to 5-30, its second win in three games heading into tonight's game at Minnesota.

The Thunder led by as many as 23 and never trailed in the second half. But when the Knicks rallied late, team captain Kevin Durant chewed out a teammate for an untimely turnover, and that fire translated to the defensive end to help the Thunder to a 6-0 run after the Knicks had pulled within 93-91.

"That's the biggest thing, we've got to police ourselves," Durant said. "The coaches do enough of it. We've got to do it within the group because we're on the floor. Guys did a great job of getting on guys, and once we did that we picked our play up. We got to continue to do that."

Durant and Green scored 27 points apiece, and Russell Westbrook added 22 points with a game-high nine assists and six rebounds. The Thunder out-rebounded the Knicks 46-35 and held New York to 39.8-percent shooting.

Desmond Mason scored 13 points with seven rebounds, and Joe Smith, returning from a three-game absence, added six points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Mason and Smith combined for seven blocked shots.

Aside from how the Thunder managed to hang on for the win after blowing a big lead, an encouraging sign was Green and Westbrook's 11 free-throw attempts, a sign that both young players are learning to get to the foul line rather than settle for jumpers.

"It's a good win for us," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We earned it by working hard.

"We know that for us to win Basketball games we have to spread the offense around. We have to attack the basket, get to the free-throw line and get wide open shots ... We've been working on those areas and it's paying off, but we still have to do it every day and every game."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 9, 2009


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