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New York Knicks lose to Oklahoma City Thunder in Christmas fait accompli

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The absences of Carmelo Anthony, due to a sprained ankle, and Pablo Prigioni, due to a broken toe, pervaded the Christmas affair between the New York Knicks and the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sense of inevitability. Even with those players, it would have been tough sledding for the New York Knicks to defeat a team that is superior to the Knicks in so many ways. Without them and with defeat to the Thunder a virtual certainty, the greatest measure of success for the Knicks players who did suit up for the contest was to keep the margin of defeat within a respectable measure. Considering the wide disparity between the two teams' talent levels, only losing 123-94 to the Thunder would qualify as a successful outcome.

As is to be expected when one team defeats another by 29 points, about as badly a beating as one will see between two professional teams, there were very few areas in which the Knicks were better than the Thunder on Wednesday. The Knicks did manage to rebound a higher percentage of their misses, posting an offensive rebounding percentage of 24.0 percent to the Thunder's 21.1 offensive rebounding percentage, but even rebounding their own misses at a more proficient rate could not help them in the efficiency department, mostly because it could not overcome their horrific shooting. For the game, the Knicks bricked their way to a ghastly 47.8 true shooting percentage, worse even than their season average, and only scored 98.0 points per 100 possessions.

Only Amar'e Stoudemire, who converted 10 of his 16 field goal attempts and two of his four free throw attempts, and Tim Hardaway, Jr., who scored 21 points on 19 field goal attempts and 3 free throw attempts, kept the Knicks' shooting percentages from being even more abysmal.

Meanwhile, from a glance at the final shooting numbers for the Thunder, as the majority of their possessions ended with points of some sort, one could reasonably wonder whether the two teams were even shooting on the same size baskets. The Thunder's 64.4 true shooting percentage for the contest suggests that they were working with the advantage of shooting on a basket with at least twice the circumference as the one at which the Knicks were launching misguided field goal attempts.

Hopefully, the Knicks did not look at their match-up with the Thunder, one of the best and most well-rounded teams the NBA has to offer as any sort of measuring stick for where the team is at right now; that would have been the height of presumptuousness indeed. Rather, the Knicks should save most of their energy, mental and physical, for trying to beat the teams who share their own mediocre level. Against the best NBA teams, their mission should only be to not get embarrassed, which factoring in the fact they were missing two of their best players on Wednesday, the Knicks accomplished.

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