The Oklahoma City Thunder (28-18) picked up an easy win on Martin Luther King Day, beating the New York Knicks (10-35) by a final score of 127-109 at Madison Square Garden. Paul George scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter to put the Thunder up by as many as 20 in the opening frame. The Knicks only got as close as 14 from that point forward, as the Thunder went 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) from long range and dominated throughout.
The Thunder blitzed the Knicks from the jump, shooting 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) in the first quarter to take a 34-16 advantage after the opening 12 minutes. George was ultra-aggressive at the outset and led the way with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the first — overwhelming the New York defense en route to putting the Thunder up comfortably early on.
The Thunder built double-digit leads in the first quarter of each of the last two games — both of which were erased entirely before it was all said and done. That wasn’t the case today in NYC, as the flood gates remained open for all four quarters. Russell Westbrook scored 11 points in the second quarter to put OKC up 67-47 at the break. George added 15 more in the third to give the Thunder a 103-82 advantage. With the two superstars on the bench in the fourth, Abdel Nader scored 15 of his 16 points in the final quarter to close it down and complete OKC’s season-sweep of the Knicks.
George led the way with 31 points (9-of-18 FG, 4-of-9 3P), four rebounds and four assists. Westbrook added 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. They were joined in double-figures scoring by Dennis Schroder (17), Nader (16), Jerami Grant (16), and Steven Adams (10). Tim Hardaway Jr. was the leading scorer for the Knicks with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Paul George & Russell Westbrook:
Wire-to-Wire. No ties or lead changes in this one. The Thunder jumped on New York early and never let them back into it. Complete wire-to-wire victory against a very bad team — which is exactly what is supposed to happen.
Good News/Bad News. OKC dominated the scoreboard, shot lights out from deep, won 49-36 on the glass, and made 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) from the free throw line. The only true blemishes on the day are New York grabbing 11 offensive rebounds (turning them into 15 second-chance points) and OKC turning it over 18 times while only forcing 12.
PG & the Gang:
- George set the tone early with his 13-point first quarter, then helped slam the door shut by scoring 15 more when New York showed signs of life in the third. He shot 9-of-18 from the floor, hit 4-of-9 from deep, and his 31 minutes were the fewest he’s seen in a game since December 17. All in a day’s work for PG13.
- Westbrook dropped 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists — shooting 6-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-2 from deep. He was fairly pedestrian in the first and third quarters, but shot 4-of-6 for 11 points in the second. Fell one assist shy of a triple-double and didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter. Finished as a team-high +22.
- Schroder (17 pts), Grant (16 pts), Nader (16 pts), and Adams (10 pts) were all solid in their efforts. Nader was on a different planet in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his 16 on 6-of-8 shooting — 2-of-3 from long range. Terrance Ferguson scored nine points in 20 minutes of action, hitting 3-of-5 from deep in another outstanding shooting effort from long range.
Big Turkey. It was a bleak day for the Knicks all around and that includes former Thunder big man, Enes Kanter. He was the second center off the bench for David Fizdale and scored 11 points in 19 minutes.
Right Back At It. The third-place Thunder will now return home to OKC for tomorrow night’s 7:00 PM CT showdown with the fourth-place Portland Trail Blazers. With today’s game being early and Westbrook/George not being needed in the fourth quarter, fatigue shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it is on most back-to-backs.