The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New York Knicks on Martin Luther King Day, 127-109. In a game where OKC was never seriously threatened about 2⁄3 of the way through the 1st quarter, the Thunder used stout defense early and, combined with timely shooting by Paul George and a bevy of role players, raced out to an 18 point 1st quarter lead they would never relinquish.
George led the charge with a smooth 31 points on 9-18 shooting, including 4-9 from three and 9-9 from the free throw line. He led an offensive attack that included the team shooting 54% overall and 15-29 from three, to go along with a promising 22-27 from the free throw line.
Once again OKC had the measure from down range, which included the following from 3-point land:
- PG — 4/9
- Grant — 1/2
- Westbrook — 1/2
- Ferguson — 3/5
- Nader — 2/3
- Schroder — 4/7
Before our very eyes, the Thunder’s 3-point shooting is emerging to no longer be the consistent weakness it was in the earlier part of the season. And a good thing too, because once again the Thunder dialed it up defensively when necessary, but after that 1st quarter, just kind of played keepaway to close out the remaining three quarters. It worked against the Knicks, but it clearly didn’t against the likes of the Lakers, Hawks, and Spurs.
Perhaps an 18 point road win masks much of the defensive issues, but after that 1st quarter, OKC gave up 93 points to a very bad Knicks team, including 52% shooting from the floor, 7-17 from three, and a staggering 30 trips to the free throw line (NY hit 22). Allonzo Trier, the rookie backup guard who went undrafted, recorded 10-10 from the charity stripe alone, which leads me to my infamous Knicks maxim — if you can’t keep Allonzo Trier off the free throw line, you’re not doing it right.
Even so, this game was a nice reprieve amidst the last two weeks of confounding play, even with the shaky defense. The Thunder won with relative ease, Westbrook didn’t shoot a hole in the barn, limiting himself to taking only 12 shots, hitting half of them, and even Dennis Schroder finished with a +20. More than anything, this game was about: a) getting the win; while b) not expending too much energy before they fly back home to face the Blazers tomorrow night at the ‘Peake.
Let’s close this one out with a “can’t possibly be ironic” chant for Fats Felton, led by one Paul Clifton Anthony George.
Paul George helping Knicks fans chant for Raymond Felton pic.twitter.com/kiLXqILils— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 21, 2019