Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat

Kevin Durant’s streak of scoring at least 30 points ends at 12 straight games


The Nets were one of the teams to hand the Thunder one of their 10 losses on the season, and even though Brooklyn has one of the league’s best marks since Jan. 1, Oklahoma City might be the best in the league period.

The Thunder showed it by waxing the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday by 25 points, and after leading by as many as 32, it wasn’t necessary for Kevin Durant to play at all in the fourth quarter.

As a result, his streak of scoring at least 30 points in 12 straight games came to an end — not that it matters to Durant in the grand scheme of things.

From the Associated Press:

“The streak was good while it lasted, but that’s the least of my concerns,” Durant said. “It’s easy for me to try to force it to keep the streak alive, but we needed this win because they beat us last time.” …

Durant came out with 1:15 left in the third quarter. Coach Scott Brooks didn’t bother asking the NBA’s leading scorer if he wanted to keep playing to extend the streak, saying he knew what the answer would be.

“If he cared about the streak, he should’ve never missed the two shots. That’s on him. Can’t blame it on me,” Brooks said.

That last part is a joke, obviously, as Brooks is referring to Durant’s two misses from the field on a night he went 10-of-12 and finished with 26 points and seven assists.

The streak ends with Durant having averaged 35.9 points per game in January during this run, one which saw him become the first player with at least 550 points and 90 assists in any month since Michael Jordan did it back in March of 1987, according to Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN).

The Thunder have now won 10 in a row, and have the league’s best overall record at 38-10.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.