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Thunder 127, Knicks 109: “Nah.”

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Some games are unforgettable. I don’t remember if this was one of them.

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Knicks’ 127-109 defeat at the handsy hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder pitted New York’s very young, very starless squad against OKC’s very veteran roster headed by the Big Two of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. This was not the best match-up one might draw up on paper. It was also not the worst.

Did you know when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 their blitzkrieg featured bombers and tanks, while the Poles still had some soldiers on horseback? There was nothing Poland could do. In the first quarter Westbrook was all about getting his teammates involved, the Thunder were hitting their threes, George was hitting everything. All night. There was nothing the Knicks could do.

The Thunder dominated the boards and the three-point bombing. And their defense...mein Gott, their defense. They rotate and recover soooo well. 10 minutes in it was 34-12. If you could sum this one up in one sequence, Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson got confused on a switch and both ran to the right corner, leaving Dennis Schroeder all alone in the left corner. His three-pointer clanged off the rim, bounced up, and bounced in. The game wasn’t finished yet, but it was done.

Two weeks after the German invasion, the Soviet Union invaded from the east. There was nothing Poland could do. Midway through the second quarter, Westbrook, who had just one point and two shot attempts, decided to start shooting, and he opened with a hot hand. There was nothing the Knicks could do.

After George hit a three and stood there like the Statue of Liberty, the Thunder were up 67-43.

The closest the Knicks got in the second half was 14, after Tim Hardaway Jr. found Enes Kanter for a nice and-one. This is a family website, so have yourself a pick-me-up.

OKC followed that with back-to-back threes to push the lead back to 20 and the rest of the night was just a waiting game until the Knicks unconditionally surrendered. This wasn’t the noble battle they put up in Philadelphia last week. It wasn’t the choke job we saw against the Wizards in London. 19 losses in 21 games happens when there’s just nothing you can do.

Notes:

  • The Thunder came into today the worst three-point shooting team in the Association. But they went 15 of 29 from deep. At least 28 of those shots were w i d e open.
  • Enjoy Frank Ntilikina defending George at the end of the 1st in super slow motion.
  • Enjoy Frank defending Westbrook as much as this astute girl in the front row did.
  • Enjoy Frank with the lefty lay-in over Steven Adams.
  • In the first half Schroeder was guarding Ntilikina. How about a post-up?! The Knicks finally gave it a shot in the second half and Ntilikina knocked Dennis the Menace on his ass. It led to an open look, which he missed. Still. It was pleasing.
  • Frank: 30 minutes today. Mudiay? 18. This is one for our side!
  • Kanter checked in about 16 minutes in to a nice response from the crowd. Stop whatever you’re doing and add “Watch Enes Kanter pick up and slam dunk Lindsay Graham” to your bucket list.
  • Luke Kornet sprained his ankle in the first half and had to sit the rest of the game. Kanter started the second half, otherwise Robinson would have fouled out in nine minutes.
  • It’s a day ending in “y,” so:
  • Knox was shutout till more than midway thru the third. Are we happy now that he’s scoring less but scoring after the first quarter? Maybe we can skip the micromanaging and wait for him to grow up some?
  • Trier playing distributor today, too. Career-high eight assists to go with six boards, 10 free throw attempts and a couple steals. This was one of those games where he slowed down 15% and increased his productivity like 75%.
  • Three fouls in the first five minutes for Mario Hezonja. In one sequence someone from the Knick bench was yelling “Lob! Lob! Watch the lob, Mario! Lob! Lob!” He watched it. Watched it sail right past him.
  • David Fizdale treated us to the Frank/Trier/Dotson/Knox/Mitch lineup. On this frigid east coast afternoon, many Knick fans needed something to heat them up and they got it then and there.
  • Points in the paint: OKC = lots. NYK = nah. The actual numbers were 52-48 in favor of New York. Don’t believe the hype. Those Knick points were too little, too late.
  • In his first 15 seconds of action Robinson threw down an alley-oop and committed a foul. Course, meet par. He hit all four of his shots dunks, blocked two shots, altered ten times that many and fouled out in 15 so-glad-he’s-back minutes.
  • Don’t be too impressed by what OKC did today. The Thunder don’t solely own the Knicks, beating them by 43 points in the two-game season sweep. They’re now 12-4 against the East but just 16-14 against the West. If the playoffs were today, they’d play the Spurs in the first round. Gun to your head. Who you got? I’m going with San Antonio.
  • Paul George looks like the kind of guy who either ruins your daughter’s life or motivates her to never be anyone’s fool.
  • 74 seconds into the second half, after an Emmanuel Mudiay layup made it 67-52, Thunder coach Billy Donovan called time. I have OCD. I count to eight anticipating a violation every single time a team brings the ball up after a basket. Every time. This season I’m finding it difficult not to fixate on how prevalently coaches are calling earlier and earlier timeouts at the start of quarters.
  • Early on Kornet hit a sweet baseline jumper, what Clyde Frazier called a “Ewing doing” back in the day. That one was always my favorite.
  • Mike Breen praised Westbrook for being the rare modern player who “will step on your throat.” Later he praised Adams and Kanter for being such good friends they’ll spend the whole game talking to one another. The man does not do dichotomies, for which I’m grateful. Marv Albert will always be my guy. I’d replace Breen with him tomorrow and never look back. But Breen really is a pleasure to listen to.
  • Clyde called Adams “Aquaman” after Noah Vonleh dunked on him. That’s the most insightful thing he’s said in years.
  • At the start of the fourth Clyde asked Breen “What’s the deal with that kid? Robinson? He just can’t get healthy.” It took Breen a few moments to realize Clyde meant Andre Roberson. Breen said OKC hopes to have their premier perimeter defender back in March. I don’t think the Thunder have the juice to score enough to beat Golden State in a playoff series. That matchup actually reminds me of the Knicks/Bulls classics from the ‘90s. But it’d be fun watching them and a healthy Roberson try.
  • If anyone has access to one of those programs that digitally ages people to see what they’ll look like in the future, I’d love to see Westbrook at 80. For reasons I can’t explain I feel like his face is going to be fascinating. There was an elderly woman sitting courtside who looked like Westbrook in old lady glasses...so, like Westbrook.
  • Today is the 20-year anniversary of the John Starks/Latrell Sprewell trade. Oft forgotten in that deal: the Knicks also traded Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. If you’re old enough to have seen those Knicks, you’ll remember Mills and especially Cummings as pleasant surprises.
  • The world’s “savviest” fans valuing irony over recalling a man threatening a woman with a firearm after she moved to divorce him. Times Square isn’t NYC’s biggest embarrassment. These people are.
  • Do yourself a favor and spend a half-hour of your life actually researching Martin Luther King Jr. Not the sanitized fairy tale character they teach you in school.

Read his criticisms of capitalism, and moderate white people, and watch clips like this and know shit may change but nothing changes.

Quoth The Ghost of Kristaps Past: “Nah.” This game was never a game. Maybe Wednesday when Houston rolls into town we’ll get one. The Lakers recently said they hoped to keep James Harden under 50 and held him to a pedestrian 48. Get your over/under on now, kids!