Knicks Become Latest Victim of Westbrook’s Triple-Double Tear, Fall 116–105 in Oklahoma City
New York heads into All-Star break disappointed as tough season continues
The Knicks came into tonight’s contest in OKC looking to win consecutive games for the first time since December 20–22. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and company got off to a scalding start, scoring 39 points in the first quarter on 73 percent shooting. It is extremely rare to see this team come out firing on all cylinders, especially on the road against a quality opponent. The defense looked very impressive as well, highlighted by KP’s mammoth block on Steven Adams.
Despite the hot start, the wheels came off abruptly a few minutes into the second quarter. Russell Westbrook began to go full Russell Westbrook and began to hit shots and attack the rim with little resistance. At one time the Knicks held a 17-point lead but that vanished by halftime. All of a sudden, ‘Melo, Rose, Porzingis and everyone else went ice cold from the field which allowed the Thunder to storm back and take the lead. Going into the half, you didn’t have a good feeling about the Knicks winning this game and they definitely performed like most fans expected in the final 24 minutes.
The same-old Knickerbockers who play uninspired, Swiss cheese defense were absolutely torched from the perimeter in the second half by Russell Westbrook, who finished with a game-high 38 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in his 27th triple-double of the season. Victor Oladipo added 21 points and hit some big shots as well. A major factor in most of the Knicks losses this season is their ineptitude on the defensive end of the floor. I wouldn’t call this one of their worst performances of the year because I honestly saw some decent effort, but it was far from adequate. OKC is not a good shooting team, but the Knicks of course made them look like the Golden State Warriors in the second half. And when the Thunder weren’t shooting jumpers, Russell Westbrook was attacking the glass and finishing around the rim with almost no help defense.
Offensively, it was much of the same we see on a nightly basis with this team. Inconsistent shooting and questionable shot selection. After burning Andre Roberson all throughout the first quarter, Recently selected All-Star, ‘Melo, was essentially a non- factor for the remaining part of the game. D-Rose played a very good game and continues to make the front offices decision harder whether to resign him or not. However, KP wasn’t good tonight offensively and looked very tentative, as he continues to struggle. In order for the Knicks to give themselves a chance to win, they must receive consistent production from these guys and it just wasn’t enough tonight.
On the bright side, Ron Baker and Willy Hernangómez played well and are making a very strong case to get more minutes the final 25 games of the season and be an integral part next season. Their stats don’t reflect how well they played. Hernangómez’s versatility was on display tonight, while Baker showed off his passing skills and confidence as a leader throughout the game, much to the delight of the ESPN announcers. I think both of these guys play the right way and are a few bright spots in an otherwise dismal 2016–17 campaign.
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Tonight’s loss is a tough one, but the reality is the Thunder are the better team and the Knicks rarely ever beat teams better than them (Editor’s note: except against the Spurs!). However, I do believe it does behoove the Knicks to lose and start the process of tanking now. Nothing valuable will come of the Knicks making the playoffs and getting bounced by the Cavs, Celtics, or Wizards in the first round. It’s time to look forward and start closely evaluating what direction this franchise is going in.
The Knicks resume play next Thursday after the All-Star break in Cleveland.
— Nick Scolaro, site writer