By Connor Mackenzie @grandepadre94
After a string of poor performances over the last six games, the Thunder have been able to execute on the road. A huge win on Saturday against the explosive Sixers, and now a thumping of the inferior Knicks put OKC back on the winning track. The Thunder lost some of their mojo, and perhaps fatigue began to sink in after home/away/home/away games took place over the past week and a half. Oklahoma City firmly sat in the driver seat and never looked back. The revenge game for former stache bro and Thunder forward, Enes Kanter, was cut very short.
Paul George had an exceptional game from the floor shooting 9-18, and 9-9 from the foul line for 31 points, 4 rebounds, and no turnovers. Against the struggling Knicks, George was able to operate freely and get into a rhythm early with defensive lapses from New York.
The Thunder were up 34-16 at the end of the first and seemingly held a 20-plus point lead for the remainder of the game.
Jerami Grant continues to be effective in slashing to the basket, taking advantage of length and explosiveness to the rim.
It was fitting that the Thunder were able to regroup on the short east coast trip and fine tune things such as rebounding, closing out on shooters, and snagging loose ball opportunities. There more flashes of the defense fans saw in the first 25 games of the season, albeit against the Knicks, what people cannot question is their effort and intensity on each possession. That type of energy was contagious and led to many easy points for the Thunder.
The bench for Oklahoma City was solid, pouring in 44 points, 21 rebounds, and 7 assists, but turned it over 10 times. Dennis Schroder has progressed much better the last few games chipping in 17 points on 5-12 shooting (4-7 from deep).
Oklahoma City was solid from the foul line again as they shot 22-27 for the game.
Russell Westbrook took advantage of the young guards in Tim Hardaway jr., Emmanuel Mudiay, and Frank Ntilikina for 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists on only 6-12 shooting with just 3 turnovers. Westbrook has burst out of his slump and is playing exceptional basketball. He still leads the league in assists and steals, while improving his shooting ability as the season progresses. The league is on notice.
After an impressive weekend, the Thunder now must deal with a dangerous Portland team at home at the Peake. The Trailblazers will likely try to get revenge on the Thunder after Oklahoma City recently handled Portland in their home arena. Should be a fun battle between perennial Thunder killers in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.