Point blank, this was an ugly basketball between two of the worst offensive teams in the league. Neither team really maintained any offensive rhythm for long periods of time and the final score does not reflect how slow the game’s pace was.
The fourth quarter did a good job at making the final score look prettier, but heading into the final 12 minutes, the score was at a lowly 69-63 Thunder lead.
This was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s best game since the season opener against the Hornets. Shai finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
Tonight is a perfect example of how Shai can take over the offense when he has to. There were strings of possession in tonight’s game where Shai took over the game and scored at will knowing his team was struggling to put points up.
This was also Hamidou Diallo’s best game of the season. Diallo finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Diallo has had his fair share of criticism for being a ball stopper and taking too many jumpers with a questionable shooting form, but what people cannot question about Diallo are his effort and energy.
There have been countless times that the team has raved about Diallo’s limitless supply of effort and energy and tonight showed just how much that can carry him.
The Queens Native attacked the basket and got to the line a healthy amount of times, shooting 6-of-8 from the stripe. Diallo was able to produce his points mostly on shots around the rim.
Considering where Diallo was drafted, at 45th overall in 2018, he has been a success story in the league. Most second-round picks do not develop into key bench players for a .500 team in their third year.
The other Thunder player in double figures scoring was Al Horford, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Horford found his stroke in the first half and did a good job at keeping the team in the game with his shooting while the offense struggled.
Horford had a quiet scoring second half but was great in the first half at riding out the bumps the team experienced.
Other notable players from tonight’s game include Lu Dort and Aleksej Pokusevski.
It seems Dort is coming back down to Earth a bit with his three-point shooting after starting the season off white-hot.
In Friday’s contest, Dort scored five points and went 1-of-6 from three. This regression to the mean was expected by most people, so I would not lose much sleep over the mini shooting slump Dort found himself in tonight’s games.
Pokusevski returned after suffering a concussion last Sunday.
This was honestly Pokusevski’s most impressive game thus far in his career as he finished with seven points and six rebounds.
Pokusevski looked a little more comfortable with the ball tonight and did not seem to rush anything like he has done so in the past.
Maybe the time off did him some good as he was able to break away from the grueling grind of the NBA schedule for five days and have some time to reflect.
In terms of an injury update on Mike Muscala after exiting the game in the fourth quarter from Austin Rivers’ elbow to the midsection, the team has officially listed the injury as a rib contusion.
Head coach Mark Daigneault mentioned postgame that Muscala hurt his ribs a couple of weeks ago and that the injury was reaggravated tonight.
Overall, this was a nice road win for the Thunder against a Knicks team that has been surprisingly good thus far this season. They did a great job at containing Julius Randle and holding him scoreless for the entire first half.
Next Game: The Thunder travel to Brooklyn on Sunday to face the Nets.