A game after the New York Knicks dispatched the Denver Nuggets so easily, they returned to their losing ways in Sunday's contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder that ended in a 112-100 defeat for the franchise. Really, what else would have been expected from the Knicks but to quickly regress from one of their better games of the season. If the Knicks have shown the basketball world anything this season, it is that they are not interested in building on any of their successes and are destined to always return to playing worse than their opponents.
Those who bore witness to the Knicks' two defeats previous to Sunday's loss, coming courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers, can probably already guess where the Knicks' game took a turn for the worse. You guessed it; the fourth quarter, and the lack of subsequent defensive stops, proved to be the death knell for the Knicks' chances of winning the contest even though they had whittled down the Thunders' lead to a manageable margin.
After the Thunder built up their lead to 12 points with a little over three minutes left to go in the third quarter, the Knicks revved up their efficiency engines enough to decrease the deficit to just six points with 9:26 left in the contest after a Pablo Prigioni drove in for a lay-up. Then the Knicks throttled down their engines, basically turning off their offensive output completely, and did not hit another field goal for 3:30 of game time when Amar'e Stoudemire converted on a dunk.
Tyson Chandler did hit two free throws during that scoring drought, but by the time the Knicks had restarted their offense, the Thunder had built up an even more insurmountable lead to separate themselves from the Knicks and separate the Knicks from a chance at the win. During that 3:30 span when the Knicks only scored two points, the Thunder rattled off seven points to build an 11-point lead.
From that point, the game was pretty much decided. The Knicks proved unable to get the defensive stops they needed when they needed them so what at one point looked like it might be a close affair turned into a pretty comfortable victory for the Thunder. If being unable to get clutch defensive stops in the fourth quarter were an art form, the Knicks would be making a case for being the Vincent van Gogh of losing winnable contests.
Even with Carmelo Anthony having an off night for the Knicks, making only five of his 19 field goal attempts, the Knicks still put together a really impressive offensive performance, scoring 110.3 points per 100 possessions on Sunday. Where they failed, and where they have failed all season, was on defense as they allowed the Thunder to score a whopping 123.6 points per 100 possessions.
The Knicks might not be a consistently excellent team, but Sunday's result demonstrated that they are still incredibly consistent; more often than not, they will play well on offense, play abysmally on defense especially during the most crucial possessions of the game, and lose the game.