Carmelo Anthony missed his second straight game on Friday with back spasms, and Russell Westbrook returned to the Thunder lineup to play in just his second game of the season.
That combination proved to be a disastrous one for the Knicks, who were crushed by OKC in a game where they trailed by as many as 37 points.
Amar’e Stoudemire ripped his team afterward for the lack of intensity that was displayed during this particularly dismal performance.
“They played like they wanted it more,’’ Stoudemire said of the Thunder. “At this point, I don’t see how a team wants it more than we do. It’s unacceptable. We should be in desperation mode. We’re a team that’s fighting for a win. Right now we got to have a higher sense of urgency and more enthused and mentally involved.’’ …
“[Oklahoma City] came out with a lot of energy and it seems as if we got taken back by that,’’ Stoudemire said. “We have to have a lion’s heart and can’t be afraid of teams coming out and playing with that type of aggressiveness. We have to retaliate.” …
“It’s intensity level at this point,’’ Stoudemire said. “The learning process is there. We can’t keep saying we’re learning. We’re learning. Teams want it more than we do. We can’t say we’re still learning. We can’t say we had an off night shooting. That happens, but you can still win the ballgame with defense. We have to become students of the game and become masters of our craft.’’
It’s easy to say that without Carmelo Anthony, and with the energy provided on the Thunder side by Westbrook’s return, that this was somewhat of a predictable result.
But the Knicks are just 4-13 on the season, and when you look around the league and see a team like Indiana managing to compete even after injuries have decimated its roster, Stoudemire has a right to wonder what it will take for he and his teammates to do the same.