USA Today Sports

NBA doubleheader: Thunder at Knicks, Clippers at Nuggets

Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks (+6.5, 206.5)

The New York Knicks passed their first taste with an ailing Carmelo Anthony sidelined, but the degree of difficulty will scrape the Madison Square Garden rafters if the star forward can't go in Thursday's matchup against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. Anthony remained mum on the condition of his knee, but coach Mike Woodson said the stiffness and soreness that the team's leading scorer has been feeling was being caused by fluid in the joint. Noting that rest is the best cure, Woodson labeled Anthony out versus Oklahoma City.

The Thunder seem to be back on track following their three-game swoon last month, winning five of their last six and coming off victories over both Los Angeles squads - at the Clippers on Sunday and at home against the Lakers on Tuesday. Guard Russell Westbrook has led the resurgence by averaging 32.2 points during the six-game run, putting up at least 37 points on three occasions. Oklahoma City, which has won five of the last six matchups with New York, is three games back of the San Antonio Spurs in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE THUNDER (44-16, 36-22-2 ATS): Kevin Durant is in position to capture his fourth consecutive scoring title, leading Anthony by a slight margin (28.6 to 28.2). But Durant has been showing off other facets of his expanding game of late, registering a pair of triple-doubles and averaging 10.2 rebounds over his last seven games. He has three triple-doubles this season after failing to record one in his first five seasons. Oklahoma City ranks among the league's leaders with 15 turnovers per game, but it tied a league record by committing only two in the win over the Lakers.

ABOUT THE KNICKS (37-21, 28-28-2 ATS): Turnovers were also an issue for New York in Wednesday's 87-77 victory in Detroit. The Knicks entered the game committing a league-low 11.5, but they had 11 in the first quarter and 21 in the game - one short of the team's season high. Forward Amar'e Stoudemire again helped filled the offensive void left by Anthony's absence, tying his season high with 22 points off the bench. Stoudemire, who played a season-high 32 minutes, has scored in double figures in six consecutive games and is shooting 71.9 percent in that span.

TRENDS:

* Home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in New York.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Thunder are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings in New York.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. Anthony has averaged 27.2 points in 25 career games against Oklahoma City.

2. The Thunder have lost two of their last three games in New York, with the win coming in overtime.

3. Oklahoma City leads the league in block shots (7.6) while the Knicks are tied for last at 3.8.

Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets (-4, 213.5)

The Denver Nuggets look to extend their six-game winning streak on Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Clippers, who bounced back from a disappointing loss to Oklahoma City with a convincing win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Nuggets have won 11 consecutive games at home and are 26-3 at the Pepsi Center, and they’re facing a Clippers team that arrived in Denver early Thursday morning after beating the Bucks.

The teams have split their first two games this season, with each squad winning at home. The Clippers hold the third spot in the Western Conference playoff race, while Denver has moved 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Memphis. Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin enters the contest on a high note after recording his third career triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists against Milwaukee.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (44-19, 36-27-0 ATS):
Griffin is averaging 19.8 points over his last six games, but he’s been held to an average of 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games against the Nuggets this season. Guard Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 22 points in a 112-100 win over Denver on Dec. 25, and he had 25 points on Wednesday against the Bucks. While Crawford is making a strong case for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, guard Matt Barnes has also been a key reserve. Barnes hit six 3-pointers against Milwaukee, and he’s averaging a career-high 10.3 points. After facing Denver, the Clippers begin a three-game homestand against Detroit on Sunday.

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (40-22, 37-24-1 ATS): Denver has won 15 of its last 19 games with Ty Lawson leading the way. The fourth-year point guard is enjoying the best stretch of his career while averaging 20.8 points, 7.5 assists and 1.67 steals over the last 24 games. Forward Danilo Gallinari, averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 boards, had 23 points and made five 3-pointers in a 120-113 win over Sacramento on Tuesday. Forward Kenneth Faried had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the victory, giving him two straight double-doubles. The Nuggets rank second in the NBA in points off turnovers and first in fast-break points, and they’ll look to wear down a tired Clippers team in the second half.

TRENDS:

* Clippers are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Denver.
* Clippers are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Under is 9-4 in the last 13 meetings.
* Underdog is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. The Nuggets have won 15 of the last 24 games against the Clippers since 2006-07.

2. The Clippers are 33-2 when leading after the first quarter.

3. Denver is 44-8 since the start of the 2009-10 season when facing an opponent in the second game of a back-to-back at home.

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