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W2W4: Knicks @ Thunder

1/14/2012

Even at full strength, the Knicks would have their hands full with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With Carmelo Anthony likely out, winning at Oklahoma City becomes even more difficult.

Anthony suffered a sprained ankle on Thursday against Memphis and is doubtful for Saturday's game.

Even with Anthony, the Knicks offense had been mostly stagnant. How will they respond if he is out?

It should be interesting -- and it could get ugly.

Here are three things to keep an eye on during Saturday's game:

THE MELO EFFECT: With Anthony on the bench, the Knicks have been outscored by 21 points. With Anthony on the floor, they've outscored opponents by 26 points. The Knicks are averaging 96 points per game with Anthony on the floor and just 90 with him out. They are also grabbing four fewer rebounds per 48 minutes with Anthony out and being outscored by 6.7 points per 48 minutes.

Of course, Anthony's absence may free up Amare Stoudemire, who was held to just six points on Thursday against Memphis. Neither player likes to talk about it, but it's clear that Stoudemire and Anthony haven't found a comfort level on the court with one another.

If Stoudemire plays well on Saturday, it will -- in some corners -- only fuel the notion that they can't coexist.

WHERE'VE YOU BEEN, AMARE? Speaking of Stoudemire, his streak of 137 straight games scoring double figures was snapped on Thursday. He's shooting just 42% from the floor and averaging only 19 points. It's early and we're dealing with a very small sample size, but there is reason to be concerned. His shot selection has too often taken him too far from the rim. Will he be able to attack the paint against OKC?

THUNDERSTRUCK: Oklahoma City is arguably the Knicks toughest opponent to date (you can make an argument for the Lakers, but I'd go with OKC). The Thunder (10-2) have won five straight and already have two separate five-game winning streaks. They've beaten the Knicks in seven of their last nine meetings and Durant will be looking to add to his total of four 30-point games. Good luck with that, Landry Fields.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.