While the NCAA tournament has descended into a maddening torrent of missed shots, bad calls and endless commercials, the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks demonstrated exquisite NBA scoring at its best Sunday afternoon.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to their 12th straight win -- this one a 125-120 victory on the road over the reigning Western Conference champions -- but it wasn't an argument against supposed purists who favor the college hardwood over the NBA. Instead, it was the latest proof the Knicks intend to be contenders when the league shifts into the postseason.
In any other year, the Knicks' current streak might be the league's biggest story. But the Miami Heat control the narrative, and everything is secondary to their 27-game run. Unlike the NCAA, any conversation about who will win it all starts and ends with the defending champions.
That doesn't make Anthony overrated or overpaid, both of which he has been accused of being for much of his career, particularly in New York. This year Anthony is playing as well as ever. After 131 points in his three previous games, he pounded the offensive glass in Oklahoma City en route to 36 points and 12 boards.
The Thunder, of course, were perfectly willing to get into a back-and-forth battle of offensive fireworks. The Knicks aren't likely to find similar contests in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That's where Anthony and the Knicks, regardless of their regular-season exploits, ultimately will be judged. On Sunday, they established their standard.
- Craig Stouffer