The Thunder picked up a much needed win against the Knicks 116-105 tonight. Oklahoma City got off to what was by far the worst start of the season thus far. At one point, the Knicks led 16-2. Carmelo Anthony torched the Thunder in the first quarter with 19 points on 7-7 shooting. Russell Westbrook was able to put up 10 points in the quarter which made the deficit somewhat manageable for the team. During the second quarter the Thunder finally started playing some defense, which turned into offensive opportunities. Oklahoma City ended up leading 62-60 at halftime after trailing by 12 at the end of the first quarter. Victor Oladipo led the comeback with some help from Westbrook.
The second half got off to a much better start than the first. The Thunder extended their lead to double-digits at certain points throughout the third quarter, and ended up with an eight point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Victor Oladipo continued his dominance and even ended the quarter with a buzzer beater 3. Heading into the fourth the team continued to play well, and the second unit was able to keep the lead while the starters got some rest. Oklahoma City stayed in control for the entire quarter and finished with a statement.
Team Effort Leads to Comeback
The Thunder overcame a 17 point deficit in a must win game tonight. After losing six out of the last ten games, the team desperately needed a win heading into the All-Star break. During the first quarter and beginning of the second, it seemed as if the Thunder were going to face another blow out loss. However, the team kept their composure and made a seemingly impossible comeback.
The comeback started with the coaching staff making necessary adjustments and then the players following through as a group. The major adjustments came on the defensive side of the ball. Finding a way to slow down Melo and contain the rest of the team was what the Thunder needed to do to win, and they did just that. The offense just needed some shots to start going down. Having a successful defensive plan lead to much easier scoring options which got the team into a rhythm. The coaching staff deserves a lot of recognition for the adjustments made during the game, and for keeping the players mentally in check.
Russ and Dipo Go Off
The offensive spark the Thunder saw tonight was largely due to Victor Oladipo getting hot during the second quarter. He started attacking the rim and knocking down shots from the outside. Dipo finally played like the All-Star that I predicted him to be this season. While it’s hard to think about anything else other than the hot shooting and buzzer beater he hit, his perimeter defense and overall play should not be overlooked as he finished with a team high +26.
Russell Westbrook had an outstanding game finishing with another triple-double. He recorded 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, while shooting 13-22 on the night. During the game it seemed as if Russ and Dipo were feeding off of each other, as the duo combined for 59 points. The two are one of top scoring duo’s in the league and are seemingly impossible to stop once they get going. The Thunder should find themselves on the right side of the scoreboard regularly if these two can have more nights like this one.
The Thunder will not be back in action again until Friday the 24th due to the NBA All-Star break. In the meantime, Russell Westbrook will be playing in the All-Star game, and Domantas Sabonis and Alex Abrines will play in the Rising Stars Challenge. Oklahoma City will take on the Lakers at home when they return. The game will start at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.