The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New York Knicks at home in convincing fashion, 128-103. Once again the Thunder got off to a hot start, using their defense and timely shotmaking to go up 15 after a quarter, and scarcely had to look back. OKC was led by Paul George, who finished with a nice 3rd gear performance (as opposed to a 4th gear performance) of 35 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, including 5-11 from three. Steven Adams, one half of the Stache Bros, finished with a commanding 19-7-5-2-1 in 30 minutes of action. His counterpart and prodigal Stache Bro Enes Kanter finished the night with 19 points in 22 minutes.
Here’s a rhetorical question: Remember a time, not too long ago, where OKC would frequently go up double digits early in games, only to fall apart and lose to lottery teams?
Here’s another hypothetical — is this end of game Hamidou Diallo dunk kerfuffle (dunkerfuffle?) one of the greatest of all time?
DIALLO WITH THE THROW...— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) November 15, 2018
Just kidding. pic.twitter.com/tjIBItVsgQ
Honestly, I feel kind of bad even recapping this game. The Knicks are just...not good. They had practically zero success even stopping the primary ball handler from driving into the lane, as Dennis Schroder, Paul George, and Hamidou Diallo demonstrated frequently. The Knicks couldn’t make open shots, as their 7-26 from three indicated.
Meanwhile, the Thunder may not have figured out a ton so far 14 games into the season, but one thing they have learned is how to play a consistent base defense early in games that completely takes lesser teams out of a rhythm. OKC wasn’t even doing anything special; they were simply staying in front of their man, not overcommitting (Russ, ahem), generally being where they were supposed to be, and made the Knicks work for open shots, which they either didn’t get or didn’t make.
The result from said defense was a lot of this:
Replay this over and over. Let it run through your veins. pic.twitter.com/3ubFZQNLp0— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) November 15, 2018
Westbrook didn’t play again, and we’re still fine. Let’s hope he doesn’t need to Saturday night, either.
- Adams was once again a man among boys, but I’d still like to see him get 4-5 more scoring opportunities a night. Is there any indication he wouldn’t scale proportionately?
- Probably the most enjoyable thing, apart from the win, was watching Adams playfully tweak his buddy Kanter throughout the night, dunking on him, nudging him, and then telling his coach to bench him with the uber-meta crack that he can’t defend the PnR.
Steven Adams just told David Fizdale re: Kanter: “Sub him out. He doesn’t know how to play defense. We’re running pick and roll every time. Sub him out.”— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) November 15, 2018
- Terrance Ferguson continues to move forward; while he’s sometimes a bit jumpy, I really like the way he’s moving his feet instead of reaching and getting cheap fouls. It results in deflections and stops on defense, as well as the opportunity to finish plays. More importantly, he’s not playing scared anymore.
- Deonte Burton sighting! He reminds me of Dion Waiters for some reason.
- Assists? Assists. 32 in all, and we got 12 from Schroder, 5 out of Adams, 2 out of Noel, and somehow 3 from Felton.
- Speaking of Nerlens, I continue to enjoy his game. Now, I’m not comparing him to Tim Duncan or anything — are we clear on that? — but one of the things marked by Tim’s game at the end of his career was the mastery of the subtleties. Proper positioning, tip-passes, keeping his head up, finding cutters. All the things that makes the game easier for teammates but seldom shows up in a highlight or box score. I’m seeing that same kind of ease with Noel, which is a really good thing because it means he’s growing past the emotion that he has to be a 20-10 high impact guy and into someone who knows how to simply create value on the court, whatever his opportunity, and his teammates know it.
- Bears repeating one last time. A year ago, these kinds of games would give us stomach aches. Not this year. Not yet, anyway.