Thunder put on show under bright lights, rout Knicks at Madison Square Garden
This was as bad as Knicks fans have feared.
Before the tip the Knicks learned that leading scorer and guy they can’t do without Carmelo Anthony was in fact going to be out due to the sprained ankle suffered Monday.
Then once the ball went up for that tip the Oklahoma City Thunder looked every bit the contender — they shot 70 percent in the first quarter — and this was a blowout early.
And I mean blowout — the 123-94 Thunder win (that’s 29 points for those of you scoring at home) was the worst home loss by a team in NBA Christmas Day history.
Which makes Mike Woodson’s job security that much more tenuous. He has valid excuse that ‘Melo (and Metta World Peace) was out for this game, but the fact is his team was demoralized and listless. Where in the first game Christmas Day you saw a Bulls team ravaged by injuries (no Derrick Rose, no Luol Deng) fight for a win, the Knicks rolled over.
It was that way from the aforementioned opening tip. You can say it was the Thunder’s shooting, blame the Knicks defense (it was a little of both), the fact remains the Thunder couldn’t seem to miss in the first quarter — they shot 70 percent over the first 12 minutes. Kevin Durant was 5-of-5 for 13 points (he finished with 29 points on 16 shots), Serge Ibaka was 3-3 (he finished with 24 points on 14 shots), Kendrick Perkins had 7 points and was 2-of-2. Remove Russell Westbook’s start (1-of-6 in the quarter) and the Thunder were 13-of-14 shooting.
Westbrook’s shot was off all night, he finished 5-of-15, but he found ways to impact the game and finished with a triple double — 14 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists.
That’s more than you can say for J.R. Smith. With ‘Melo out Smith got the keys to the offense and had 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting and was a -32 on the game.
The Thunder finished the game with an offensive rating of 126.2 points per 100 possessions.
I could go on and on about how this was a blowout, but you get the idea. The Thunder have a roster where eight of their players are 25 years old or younger, and they complement one another’s skill set. The Knicks… there’s a lot of work to do there.
They have a home-and-home with the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors this weekend, it’s a great chance to turn things around. I just wouldn’t bet on it.