for this game

Durant sizzles as Sonics edge Knicks

Dec 13, 2007 - 6:37 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Before the game, Seattle SuperSonics coach P.J. Carlesimo was praising his team's resiliency. In the final minutes, they proved him right.

Rookie Kevin Durant scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half, including a vicious dunk in the final minutes, as the SuperSonics posted an 117-110 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Fellow rookie Jeff Green added 17 points for Seattle, which improved to 6-17 despite getting outrebounded, 47-36. The win was also a nice turnaround from Tuesday's 27-point loss in Chicago.

The victory also came after Seattle did not land in New York until four in the morning and was not able to have a morning shootaround.

The final three minutes in which the SuperSonics held the Knicks to five points on one basket were also an improvement from earlier in the season when many fourth quarters were troublesome aspects of the game.

"Before the game, someone asked me what's the most impressive thing about this team, and that's what I said," Carlesimo said. "That's the third or fourth time we've done it where we've had a real disappointing game and the next night in a situation that doesn't really make sense, we come back and do a great job."

"When we started out, the fourth quarter was the quarter that we've been letting go, playing lackadasicial," Green said. "The fourth quarter has been very big, so tonight we showed (improvement) by getting stops, getting charges, getting offensive fouls and getting offensive rebounds and that's us getting better as team."

They were able to get the victory by contributions from players other than Durant and Green as six players finished in double figures, including four reserves.

Wally Szczerbiak and Luke Ridnour each scored 12, Earl Watson had 11 and Nick Collison finished with 10 while former Knick Kurt Thomas scored five in the final 2:31.

"You could go right down the line and say good things about every guy on the team," Carlesimo said. "The big thing was we got energy. We got in at four o'clock in the morning but we played with energy tonight. We played with a little bit more passion."

The SuperSonics shot 49 percent in their last contest and were even better in this one, finishing at a scorching 58 percent (47-of-81). Despite its finest shooting performance of the season, Seattle trailed for most of the game before taking the lead in the third.

After the Knicks cut the lead to two with 2 1/2 minutes left, the Sonics finished the game on a 12-7 run - highlighted by Durant's swooping baseline jam to make it 114-108 with 56.6 left, effectively letting the air out of the Knicks and their MSG crowd.

The run was set up by little things such as Thomas getting an offensive rebound and converting a three-point play as well as Collison and Thomas drawing charges in the final minutes.

"They did a great job of coming out and putting good pressure on us," Durant said. "I would say that we came out hard on the defensive end and got some key plays and the biggest plays were the two charges. And, obviously, Kurt getting the offensive rebound for the and one - that was the biggest play of the game. I think that if we make big plays like that in the fourth quarter, we'll be all right."

Instead of allowing the Knicks to pull away, the Sonics cut their deficit to three before Durant took over in a third quarter that featured seven lead changes and three ties.

Durant scored 10 points in the quarter, but the Sonics did not grab the lead until Ridnour's 3-pointer snapped a 75-75 tie with 2:16 remaining. Seattle took an 83-79 edge into the fourth but lost the lead when Jamal Crawford converted a three-point play with 7:39 remaining.

Green restored it with a running bank shot on Seattle's next possession and then Ridnour put Seattle up 96-93 with a jumper. The Sonics almost lost the lead but Green made a tremendous block on Crawford with 5:18 left before scoring on the other end.

Durant, who shot 11-of-20 from the field after a 3-of-8 start, followed with a 3-pointer for a 103-97 lead. The Knicks answered with a spurt and were within 105-103 following a basket by Zach Randolph with just under three minutes remaining - setting up the final run.

"For us, especially getting in real late last night and playing terrible last night, this is good for us, just to show our character," Ridnour said. "(We) keep fighting no matter what our record is and what the circumstances."

Crawford scored 29 points and Randolph collected 27 and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who dropped their fourth straight game and fell to 6-14.

"I thought tonight, we had a great chance to get that victory," New York forward David Lee said. "We just didn't take care of business. I thought we played good ball in the first half.

"We put ourselves in position for a victory. Unfortunately, like I've been telling you guys, we've been coming up short and it's not the big things that are killing us. It's the little things here and there."

The Knicks played the game without point guard Stephon Marbury, who sat out following the death of his father. They also lost starting forward Quentin Richardson to a right knee injury in the second quarter.

While the Knicks avoided their fourth consecutive double-digit loss and 11th overall, they gave up a season high in points in a regulation game and allowed a team to shoot over 50 percent for the sixth time.

They also allowed 64 second-half points as Seattle shot a blistering 67 percent (26-of-39) and converted 27 points off 14 turnovers.

"I thought we had enough effort," coach Isiah Thomas said. "We didn't have enough good play. We can have effort but we didn't have good play. We didn't have smart play."

Despite not having his full compliment of players in this one, Thomas admitted that some changes may need to be made based on the team's recent play.

"You give it some thought, however again, if things do change it will be a conversation we have with the players before I have it with you (the media) out of respect," Thomas said. "I am not going to come in here after a loss, tell you I am going to be changing things before I have said it to the players."

Eddy Curry had just 12 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes for New York. Thomas was more upset with his lackluster defense.

"Right now, I think, you look at his offensive output, he was 6-of-11 and he had six rebounds in 24 minutes," the coach said. "That is a good stat line but, defensively, we need him to effect the game more defensively, and he has to be able to do that for us."