The match-up between NBA top scorers, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, turned out to be a mismatch.
Durant put on another MVP-calibre performance with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists on Sunday, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to their ninth straight home victory, 112-100 over the visiting New York Knicks.
“He makes it look easy,” said Anthony, whose 27.4 points per game is second to Durant’s 31. “When you get it going like that, it’s hard to stop it.”
Durant also sparkled on the defensive end, helping to limit Anthony to a season-low 15 points.
“In order for us to be a good team I have to be a two-way player. I realised that these past few years,” Durant explained. “I just try to play as hard as I can by using my length and my quickness to my advantage.”
Reggie Jackson scored 19 points while Serge Ibaka added 16 for West-best Oklahoma City (41-12), who shot 54.8 per cent from the field en route to their 13th win in 15 outings.
Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton netted 16 points apiece to pace the Knicks (20-31) who were victimised by Durant in their eighth loss in 10.
“He’s a tough cover, great scorer, makes good decisions with the ball,” Knicks Iman Shumpert said. “He made tough shots today.”
Durant had 19 points at halftime and the Thunder led 58-53, that extended to 86-78 entering the final frame.
The Knicks drew to within 92-86 on free throws by Tyson Chandler with 8.5 minutes left. Durant, however, drilled a three-pointer and the Thunder never let the lead dip below eight.
Elsewhere, rookie Victor Oladipo scored 13 of his 23 points in the final quarter and deflected Paul George’s potential game-winning jumper in the closing seconds, as the lowly Magic (16-37) stunned the league-best Pacers for a third straight win.
George scored 27 points for visiting Indiana (39-11), who blew a 17-point third-quarter cushion to snap a four-game winning streak.
The LA Clippers downed Philadelphia 123-78 and celebrated the return of All-Star guard Chris Paul by punishing the visiting 76ers for their biggest blowout in franchise history.
Paul finished with seven points, eight assists and four steals in 23 minutes in his first action after missing 18 games with a shoulder separation suffered on January 3.
The Chicago Bulls beat the LA Lakers 92-86, the Brooklyn Nets accounted for the New Orleans Pelicans 93-81, the Washington Wizards defeated the Sacramento Kings 93-84, the Dallas Mavericks were 102-91 winners over the Boston Celtics, and the Cleveland Cavaliers prevailed 91-83 over the Memphis Grizzlies.