Thunder dominates in NYC: Five Thoughts
By: Alberto Bodei, Staff Writer
On MLK day the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New York Knicks without too many troubles, 127-109 the final score.
After a dramatic win in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, the Thunder needed to come out strong and avoid any surprise against a bad Knicks team. They did it right away from the first quarter and never looked back.
Led by Paul George, the Thunder took control of the game in the first twelve minutes. The Knicks weren’t able to stop the Thunder’s offense, while on the other end of the floor they couldn’t score. Oklahoma City’s lead after the first quarter was eighteen points, 34-16.
The Thunder held a double-digit lead for the whole game, the Knicks never came close to create an issue. For the first time this season, both Paul George and Russell Westbrook took some deserved rest for the whole fourth quarter.
With the win in New York, Oklahoma City keeps the third place in the Western Conference (28-18) behind the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets.
Paul George, strong
Despite the opponent, Paul George played once again like an MVP candidate. Against the Knicks, in only thirty minutes, George scored thirty-one points (9-18 FG, 4-9 3PT, 9-9 FT), and added four rebounds, four assists, one steal, and zero turnovers. Not only Paul George played an outstanding offensive game, but he played good on defense as well. Without any doubt, he is having the best season of his career.
Russell Westbrook, in control
After ending the first quarter scoreless, Russell Westbrook heated up in the second quarter. He scored eleven of his seventeen points in the second quarter. Westbrook controlled the game without too many issues, he attacked the offensive board a few times (he grabbed three offensive rebounds), and dishes some nice assists. The former MVP final stat line: seventeen points (6-12 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-5 FT), ten rebounds, nine assists, and three turnovers. Important development: in the past five games, Westbrook is shooting 75.6% from the free throw line on 8.2 attempts per game.
Terrence Ferguson, better and better
As the season goes on, Terrence Ferguson is getting better and better. Today against the Knicks he scored nine points, and all came from behind the three points line. In the past fifteen games, Ferguson is shooting 46% from the three points line on 4.5 attempts per game, while in the past ten games the percentage rises up to 50% on 5.4 attempts per game. These are incredible numbers for a player who really struggled at the beginning of the season, and he is only in the second year of his career. But you know what’s the most interesting part? It’s that Ferguson is becoming also a great defensive player. He is becoming the shooting guard that the Thunder probably never had: a three-pointer threat who can defend consistently.
Second Unit, solid minutes
In New York, because of the unbalanced score, the second unit was able to play more minutes than usual, and this is indeed positive. Abdel Nader scored sixteen points, fifteen in the last quarter, Schröder added seventeen more, Noel six, and Diallo three. Getting extra minutes under the belt for players who don’t play usually much is good for their confidence, and it’s obvious that the Thunder’s second unit needs some of it. Unfortunately, Patterson wasn’t able to play much. During the third quarter, he got hit hard in the face by Trier and did not return. However, it didn’t seem to be anything serious, just a bloody nose Billy Donovan reported after the game.
Offense, elite numbers
Against the Knicks, the Thunder played a great offensive game. Oklahoma City shot over 50% from all the areas: 54.2% FG, 51.7% 3PT, 81.5%. Obviously, the Knicks aren’t a good defensive team, but it’s encouraging going forward to see the Thunder hitting shots, especially from behind the three points line. Also, once again Oklahoma City shot over 80% from the free throw line. In the past two games, Paul George is 20-20 from the FT line, while Russell Westbrook is maybe finding is stroke back, 8-12 during this short road trip.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play tomorrow evening, at home, against the Portland Trailblazers. Tip-off 7 pm CT.