The Thunder beat the Knicks about 45 minutes prior to tipoff today.
Once Carmelo Anthony was ruled out because of a sprained ankle, the Thunder’s keys to winning became getting off the bus, walking into the arena, putting on their uniforms, and then remembering how to basketball.
And they accomplished those tasks well, executing the Knicks 123-94 in front of an agitated Madison Square Garden. Kevin Durant hit high on the microwave the first half, knocking down step-back 3s, Russell Westbrook cruised to a triple-double in 29 minutes, Serge Ibaka had 24 on 10-14 shooting and OKC’s bench combined for 45. It was a clinical takedown of a lesser opponent. Exactly how the Thunder should’ve handled business at MSG.
The Knicks made one little push, trimming a 14-point Thunder halftime lead to 10 early in the third, and in possession of the ball. A missed J.R. Smith 3 led to an easy runout for Westbrook, Ibaka finished a dunk off a sweet pick-and-roll with Durant and the rout was on from there. OKC pushed the lead to 22 within four minutes and had it firmly at 20 by the end of the third quarter, meaning unless something went wrong, Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka weren’t getting off the bench in the final frame.
Sunday’s loss to the Raptors was bad, so there is potential that this result would’ve looked like this even if Anthony had played. Hard to tell how much had to do with the current Knicks product being horrible and how much had to do with the Thunder being angry. Either way, after going 5-25 in the fourth quarter against Toronto, the Thunder started hot and stayed that way, hitting 53.6 percent from the floor with 32 assists. The offense was crisp, the spacing very good and the execution ideal.
While the Thunder lost their home streak last week, that’s now six straight they’ve won on the road. Winning in OKC is good, but taking that explosiveness and focus on the road is what separates them as an elite team. They waltzed into MSG today, did the deed, and as the final buzzer sounded, the home fans were booing and the Thunder were just laughing on the bench as Cole Aldrich played garbage time for the other team.
Merry Christmas, everybody.
- So the sleeves were horrible.
- In the second quarter, Beno Udrih hit the side of the backboard on a wide open 3. He then rolled up his sleeves and shook his head. Yeah, it was TOTALLY the sleeves’ fault.
- Jeremy Lamb definitely looked the funniest in the sleeved jersey.
- The Thunder are 1-0 all-time in sleeved jerseys. Let’s hope it stays that way.
- Reggie Jackson finished with 18 today, with 15 coming in the fourth quarter. He was easily the best player on the floor for those 12 minutes.
- Lamb had 13 on 5-8 shooting. That’s the first double-digit game for both on the same night since Dec. 15 against the Magic.
- Steven Adams didn’t check in until the start of the fourth quarter.
- Here’s the biggest hypocrisy/frustration with Scott Brooks and his starting five: The Knicks don’t have much size and played with a single big for a lot of the game. So naturally, OKC played small a lot. The frustration is, Brooks still rolls out his starting five for their eight or nine minutes together despite clearly having a game plan that runs counter to that. He’s willing to give Perk his 15 minutes, but can’t get Steven Adams on the floor any because the matchups dictated that. It doesn’t make sense.
- Lamb is juuuuuuust a bit too handsy a defender. He reaches a bit too much, and he’ll move his feet a little late sometimes and have to lay two hands on a player.
- Westbrook had a triple-double in under 30 minutes. Per Basketball Reference, only five other players have done that since 2005. The last was Stephen Curry this season, and before that it was Durant last season, who did it in 27 minutes. I feel like we need a name for this achievement.
- KD’s Christmas numbers: 34.0 points on 60.5 percent shooting, 57.0 percent from 3, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists
- Stupid stat I’d like to see: Number of banked in shots outside of five feet. Russell Westbrook has to rank highly in that. Also: I bet Westbrook is shooting like 91 percent on jumpers he uses the backboard.
- Reggie Jackson’s poster tasted really good.
- That moment Perk posted Andrea Bargnani and he flopped to draw a foul, and Perk laid it in easily.
- I kept checking to make sure there wasn’t a typo in Toure Murry’s last name.
- Westbrook picked up another assist by helping a ballboy mop up a wet spot. Oh oh, this is better: Westbrook mopped the floor with the Knicks.
- Steven Adams and Cole Aldrich went toe to toe in the fourth quarter. And in the most fitting thing ever, Aldrich fouled Adams within 10 seconds.
- Hard not to respect Derek Fisher for the effort with about 10 minutes left. Deflected a pass and busted it to the other end and dove for it.
- H/T to Mrs. Daily Thunder for today’s headline.
Next up: At the Bobcats on Friday