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Knicks fall as Durant scores 30 for Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY - It was one of the few clean looks Danilo Gallinari had in what turned out to be a scoreless night in the Knicks' 106-88 loss to the Thunder at Ford Center.

The 6-11 Gallinari lined up a corner three-pointer and rose to the apex of his jump in his perfect form. And out of nowhere came a hand that spanked the ball over the head of the stunned Gallinari, who couldn't remember the last time he had a jumper blocked so cleanly.

"Kevin Durant is so long, so long," Gallinari said of the Thunder's budding superstar, who dominated with a 30-point performance that almost seemed effortless. "He actually was helping on the other side, on the other man. I was completely free."

The play came early in the third quarter with the Knicks looking to get within 15 points of a team that for most of the game played 20 points ahead.

It hardly was a turning point, but the block represented one of seven missed field goals - and three missed three-pointers - for Gallinari, who admittedly didn't have the game he has shown in recent weeks.

"I don't know, I just didn't play," said Gallinari, who pulled down 11 rebounds in 31:35. "I played bad."

He wasn't the only one. Chris Duhon also was an 0-fer in the game (0-for-8, 0-for-6 from downtown) in 27:48. David Lee had 11 points and 13 rebounds but shot 5-for-18 from the floor as the target of a very aggressive double-team defensive strategy by Scott Brooks' team.

"I think we were a little shocked at first and we couldn't get a footing," Mike D'Antoni said.

The Knicks fell behind 34-24 in the first quarter and, for many stretches of the game, looked too much like the team from November that started 1-9. The Knicks shot 38.2 percent from the field in the game and was 6-for-28 from three-point range.

The 6-9 Durant's points came despite only 14 field-goal attempts as he shot 13-for-16 from the free-throw line in 32:51. He lifted his average to 28.8 points per game.

D'Antoni opened the game with a curious strategy of a box-and-one defense - seldom seen in the NBA - that had Duhon playing Durant tight and Jared Jeffries attacking with a double-team.

The plan didn't work, mainly because with all of the attention paid to Durant, the Thunder (21-16) took advantage with four offensive rebounds in the first quarter and 10 points by Russell Westbrook. Westbrook finished with 17 points and five assists.

Nate Robinson led the Knicks (15-22) with 19 points off the bench and Jonathan Bender had 16. After sitting out two games with a left calf strain, Al Harrington returned to the lineup and had nine points in 16:57.

And although Wilson Chandler had an extremely quiet night (12 points) and four turnovers (nine in his last two games), it was Gallinari's night that was the most concerning because of how passive he was early on.

With the Thunder effectively taking the ball out of Lee's hands, the Knicks needed another scoring option, and with Durant playing him tough defensively, Gallinari did little to assert himself.

"That's what's going to take him to the next level," Duhon said. "He has to understand that teams are going to play him tougher and won't let him get the ball. But if he wants to be a superstar in this league, he has to find a way to still get balls, still get his shots and contribute every night."

Added D'Antoni, "We need that from him."

New York Sports