The game of the day on this Sunday afternoon is the early game in an ABC doubleheader that looked a lot better four months ago than it does now. At 3:30 the gritty Chicago Bulls visit Staples Center to face the short-handed and overall wacky Los Angeles Lakers. Sure wouldn’t hurt to have Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant on the court. The one o’clock game does not lack star power. Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks make the trip to Oklahoma City to face off with Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
The Thunder and the Knicks are teams going in different directions. The Thunder enter the game with a 40-12 record and have won twelve of their last fourteen games. The Knicks have won exactly half as many games as the Thunder have this season, and have only won six of their last fourteen contests. Even though this game looks like a mismatch on paper, there is no shortage of intrigue given how well each team’s star player has been playing as of late. Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant are the proud owners of the two highest individual scoring games of the season, notching 62 and 54 points respectively, each coming within the last four weeks. Kevin Durant’s recent hot streak has been well documented, but Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been too far behind. In his last ten games, Melo is averaging 32 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per contest in comparison to Durant’s 33-7-7 over the same span.
The biggest difference between Durant and Melo is the Thunder are winning, in part because of Durant’s improvement as a facilitator. That’s still an area where Carmelo is lacking. As individually talented as Melo is, there is the much deserved critique that he might not be good enough or unselfish enough to make a team a good team a great one. But today, I’m hoping that I don’t see a showcase of unselfish Durant or unselfish Melo. I’m being a little selfish and hoping that Durant and Melo will follow my lead. I want the two highest scorers in the league to come into the game firing early and often. I want an old fashioned shootout, and I think we might get one.
The Pick: Oklahoma City 109, New York 101
National TV: ABC
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST