Mmmhmm. Bask in it. Let it wash over you and heal your week-old wounds. That, babies, was a marvelous way to break a losing streak. Back home and well-rested after an ugly third-straight loss in Cleveland, the Knicks earned their first bonafide blowout of the year. They outran and out-shot the Oklahoma City Thunder, dominating Scott Brooks's young but edgeless squad with fresh legs and a rediscovered commitment to defense. Turns out a running team is more apt to run after some time to recuperate. Like flossy commented in the game thread, it'd be nice to capture that vigor and sprinkle it over every game from here on out.
Take the jump for a few notes on the win that was.
- I've always taken special interest in the inter-squad pre-tip greetings. Which players share simple one-arm hugs? Which players ignore one another? Which players seem to be bros? In this one, I noticed Danilo Gallinari and Russell Westbrook exchanging pleasantries, which led me to deduce that they've had playdates before. Makes sense. Same grade.
- As has often been the case, this one opened with some pace. (Lace. Chase. Ma$e. Ace of Base.) Raymond Felton and Landry Fields pushed to get their friends easy looks at the rim and clear attempts from outside. There was a vast uptick in movement-- particularly off the ball-- from that slimefest in Cleveland. OKC joined in the fun by beating the Knicks up the floor and forcing them into missed assignments and fouls. Wilson Chandler, bearing most of the burden that is Kevin Durant, covered his assignment pretty nicely but got roped into a couple of iffy fouls early on.
- One thing about those fouls: If a whistle is egregious enough to make Wilson Chandler crack a smile (LAUGH, even), then it's a miscall. A grin from Silent Wil is equivalent to a spitting, snarling, profanity-laced tirade from Kevin Garnett.
- While we're on it, Chandler finished with 21 points, including 3 of 4 threes. Cool.
- With Chandler picking up two quick ones and Landry Fields making a few high-speed errors in the early going, Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas checked in relatively early in the first period. Extra E immediately pooped a three from the corner, but both had their biggest impact in the second half. More on that later.
- The second quarter saw the game's biggest swing. During the period's first three minutes (most of which were sans Amar'e Stoudemire), OKC ran their lead up as high as eight. Amar'e returned, and the Knicks promptly reeled off nine straight, recapturing the lead on a Wilson Chandler three with 7:22 remaining in the half. They never looked back. New York's lead increased to eight by halftime (it'd have been 12 if it weren't for that meddling Russell Westbrook) and didn't fall below six from that point forward.
- I don't know what K&G Superstore is, but I'm pretty sure they were advertising some sort of deal for "ladysuits". Mark me down for three ladysuits, please.
- At one point in the third quarter, Kelly Tripucka compared Russell Westbrook's ability to drive through traffic to that of DeSean Jackson. I'm not much of a football fan, but even I know it's way too soon to utter that name, especially when the Knicks have like a 3-71 record in games Tripucka announces. Obvious and easily avoidable faux pas, if you ax me.
- Two neat stats: The Knicks had a marvelous 30 assists on 42 field goals, and also 9 blocks. That's ball movement, help defense, and, all together, rested legs.
- Also, 10-21 from downtown and 18-21 from the line. That too.
- I said I'd get back to Williams's and Douglas's second-half heroics, and here we are. Shawne and Toney (both of whom we could call Extra E) left their marks on the third and fourth quarters, respectively. After the Thunder cut the Knicks' lead to single digits, Shawne's tip-in of a Ronny Turiaf free throw and lay-in of a transition feed from Douglas put the Knicks back up by thirteen. In the fourth, Toney blew the game open with six of New York's first nine points. Overall, Williams made his presence felt on both ends of the floor (3 blocks and a steal to go with his 7 points!) and Toney Douglas (9 points, 3 dimes, 5 bounds) did what Toney Douglas do for the first time in a hot while. Combine that with a surprisingly offensive performance from Turiaf (11 points on some nice pick-and-roll finishes), and you have a lovely little bench renaissance.
- And that's really the story of tonight's game. Amar'e Stoudemire (23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 monstrous blocks) and Raymond Felton (12 points, 10 assists, 6 boards) both had relatively quiet nights, but New York received a 29-point boost from the bench (the three amigos mentioned above plus Timofey Mozgov's garbage time oop). Considering recent events, we couldn't ask for a better sign than a win driven by splendid bench play.
- Regarding Williams, our own zlander came up with a pretty solid rule: "Poop or pass". Minimize the dribbles, good sir.
- Landry Fields. Oh, Landry Landry Landry boy. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love when you get a hand on a rebound, helping the Knicks regain possession without ever personally securing the ball. I love when you cut baseline for easy backdoor buckets. I love when you make slick passes in transition. I love when you nail open threes, ugly as your form may be. I love when you poach passing lanes so expertly that it looks like the pass was intended for you. I love you when you bum rush the offensive glass for tip-ins. I love when you block the shots of guys who tower over you. I love when you throw outlet passes right on the money. I love when you claw over screens to draw charges. I love when you laugh, because I laugh too. I love when we sing to each other. I love when we frolic and pick wild berries together. You complete me, Landry Fields.
- Mike Breen misspoke and called Durant "Kevin Thunder" just after the final buzzer. It was funny until I remembered that that's Cole Aldrich's name for his penis.
- DJ White looks like somebody. John Salmons, perhaps?
- A blowout win meant extended garbage time, which meant we got to see Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, Bill Walker (and Roger Mason Jr., I guess) spin. Aside from the aforementioned Mozgov alley-oop, nobody did anything of note, unless you consider Randolph's mere existence "of note", which you totally should.
- After Kevin Durant had 19 in the first half, Danilo Gallinari and friends did a much better job denying him the ball following the break. The rest of the Thunderbros didn't do much to help, missing a whole mess o' wide-open jumpers in the second half. They were playing for the fourth time in five nights, and we know how that goes. That's not to discredit the Knicks or anything. In fact, credit the Knicks for leaning on the gas and exploiting that edge in energy.
- Maybe it was all the paint I ate for dinner, but I could've sworn I saw some flashes of zone defense from D'Antoni at certain points. Word to Jared Jeffries.
That'll be all for now. I more than likely forgot something, as it's almost 5 in the morning and there was more than a single serving of excellence in tonight's game. The Knicks now sit at 17-12, with another couple of days to rest before a Christmas Day battle with the Bulls. A+ effort tonight, fellows. Hell of a slump-buster.