O-K-3 Lead Thunder Past Knicks
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook set an NBA record for triple-doubles last season as he put the team on his back and carried them to the playoffs.
This season, once the Thunder acquired both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the conventional wisdom was that would mean the end of Russ’ run of triple-doubles.
So much for conventional wisdom.
Westbrook recorded the 80th triple-double of his career in front of the 300th straight sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists in leading the Thunder to a 105-84 win over the New York Knicks.
“Russell has always tried to figure out what’s best for the group and how to get the group involved,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “And I thought from an orchestrating standpoint he did a terrific job of getting guys involved, creating shots for guys and then also finding ways of getting into the deep paint and getting to the rim.”
Westbrook got to the free throw line 10 times with those deep drives and hit seven of his shots from the line. He was 7-for-12 overall and took only one of OKC’s 38 threes. The Thunder made just 28 of those, Russ missed his lone attempt.
His new superstar running mates had big games too. Paul George led the Thunder with 28 points including six 3-pointers. Carmelo Anthony added 22 and Steven Adams dropped in 12 points and also had five steals.
The Thunder offense, as it has at times during the preseason, scuffled around some, shooting just 36.4 percent in the 1st quarter and 38.6 percent in the 1st half.
They were much more efficient in the 2nd half (47.8 percent) but the defense, like it’s been in the four preseason games was solid.
“The biggest thing for us was our defense,” Donovan said. “I’ve been really pleased with that since the start of training camp. They’ve done a really good job defensively.”
OKC forced New York into a whopping 26 turnovers which led to 38 Thunder points.
The Knicks could never really get anything going consistently because of all those turnovers and when they managed to hold onto the ball long enough to get a shot off it usually missed the mark.
The Knicks shot just 40.5 percent for the game. Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points but former Thunder backup center Enes Kanter was the only other Knick in double figures and he barely got there with 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
If the Thunder can continue with that it will provide the offense some time to jell.
“I think by playing great defense, especially this early in the season when most teams are still trying to find their way it gives you at least a little bit of room and you can really fall back to your defense.”
For now the Thunder are more than happy to do just that, knowing that the more Russ and his new teammates play together the better the offense will become and they’ll be spending lots of time together with their first three games coming in the span of just the next four days.