All blowouts are not created equal.
There are the ho-hum variety like the way the Thunder handled the Suns or Rockets. And then there are the kind like the Thunder put on the Knicks Saturday night in The Peake.
This one, a 104-92 whipping, had highlights, fun box score lines and really, really fun basketball. Russell Westbrook dished out eight first half assists, KD absolutely abused Carmelo Anthony’s replacement, James Harden had 19 in the first half and the Thunder played a loose, clean and confident first half.
Really, OKC looked like a team playing at home coming in on two days rest against a group missing their best player. How it should be, but there was a little extra something to it. Like I said, in some blowouts, it’s just a case of the other team playing completely terrible basketball and OKC overwhelming them with talent. And then others, like this one, it’s more just about a complete hammering where everything seems to be working.
Things that happened in the first 24 minutes that were awesome:
- The Thunder scored 70 points
- Perk hit a jumper
- Serge Ibaka got into it with Tyson Chandler
- The Knicks fell down like 75 times
- Mentioned it already, but Westbrook had eight assists and hit a walk-off 3-pointer to finish the half
- KD went 7-9 from the floor and worked over Bill Walker like it was me trying to defend him
- The Thunder had a dunk every other possession (note: may not actually be accurate)
Again, no Melo meant the Knicks didn’t have their top option. But Amare Stoudemire was still there and he went for just 14 on 7-19 shooting. Chandler was still there and he didn’t affect the paint in the slightest as the Thunder knifed and scored at will. The Knicks are one of the East’s better teams and the Thunder just stomped them. And they did it with a little style.
- The Thunder’s garbage time guys really need to do a better job, otherwise every “blowout” is going to be a 10-point win and OKC will never climb Hollinger’s power rankings. Tonight, a 30-point margin went down to 12.
- The Bulls beat the Raptors 77-64 tonight. Again, OKC scored 70 in the first half.
- I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the best half of basketball the Thunder played this season came with Westbrook having eight helpers. There are times Russ can completely dominate a game both scoring and distributing. This was one of those. For shame he sat the last 15 minutes, otherwise he would’ve had a triple-double (21-8-8).
- It’s clear that Ibaka’s go-to scuffle move is pointing in the face of his adversary. Quality move.
- Westbrook rolled his ankle on a fast break in the first quarter. I actually thought it might be serious because instead of sitting on the floor for a second and then lightly limping up the court while acting like he got poked in the eye for some reason, Westbrook actually had to leave the game. He came right back in though and looked fine.
- I’ve done a film study on it before, but the Collison/Harden backdoor play is seriously the most undefendable set OKC has. It has so many options. It puts the ball in Harden’s hands with a screen-and-roll option, a drive option and a shot option.
- The Knicks used Iman Shumpert to defend Westbrook and hid Mike Bibby on Thabo to start the game. At first I wondered if that would be a thing that could hurt OKC, but then Harden checked in and the Thunder blew their doors off.
- It’s pretty clear that Reggie Jackson isn’t ready for everything. Any time the Thunder offense stalled with him on the floor or the shot clock became an issue, Jackson immediately found Harden to let him go to work. Not a bad plan and really, probably a wise point guard move.
- Amare Stoudemire needs to teach a class on how to rock a towel around your neck on the bench. He leads the league in bench swag.
- Completely irrelevant thing I noticed: Matt Pinto dyed his hair black.
- OK, time to go ahead and rotate out the “This City” pregame video.
- Bill Walker, not a great NBA player.
- I kind of wanted the Knicks to get close because it was obvious that KD and Westbrook had it going tonight. Seems to be a recurring theme for OKC. Any time one of those guys gets a really good line going, the Thunder start blowing out the other team. I’m thinking that’s not a coincidence though.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night via @ThunderBDsays: “YES SIR!!!!! WOW!!!!! WHAT GREAT BASKETBALL!!!!”
Next up: At the Celtics Monday.