Last night was one of these games where you can feel the buzz of tension and excitement in the air right from the warmup, maybe even from before. The atmosphere was comparable to the one of a playoff game. The organization prepared t-shirts for the fans on each seat and colored the whole arena in blue. A loud crowd welcomed the new Thunder’s big three and they didn’t disappoint in their first official game together.
Oklahoma City defeated New York 105-84.
Let by another Westbrook’s triple-double and despite some shooting issues (good shots by the way) in the first quarter, the Thunder controlled most of the game. The Knicks simply didn’t have the firepower to keep up offensively (with the only exception of Porzingis) with Oklahoma City. New York’s defense is also not good enough to stop any good team from scoring.
There is still obviously a lot of work to do for OKC (i.e. ball movement), but if what we saw in this first game can (and probably will) improve during the season, Thunder’s fans have all the reasons to be excited about something special.
Thoughts and Stats
Russell Westbrook played an outstanding game. He controlled the pace perfectly: attacked the rim when he saw the opportunity and looked for open teammates when needed. He finished with 21 points (7-12 FG), 10 rebounds, and 16 assists. Westbrook took 8 shots less than Anthony and 11 less than George. It only happened three times in 81 games that someone else took more shots than Westbrook last year.
Before talking about Anthony and George, I would like to mention Steven Adams. What an incredible game by the big Kiwi. He ended up with 12 points (5-5 FG), 5 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks. He was all over the place on the defensive end and lethal on offense. Adams also did a lot of things that box scores don’t show like defensive help, screens, and box out.
Carmelo Anthony finally closes his chapter with the New York Knicks. He scored the first basket of the Thunder’s season and had a lot of fun. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from behind the arc (3-10 FG3), but every time he shoots it feels like he is going to score. He showed effort also on defense, that is indeed a plus.
Smooth is the word that can define best Paul George style of play. With teammates like Westbrook and Anthony, he doesn’t need to create his own shot anymore and this makes him better. George finished with a team-high 28 points and a solid 6-13 from the three points line.
Thunder’s defense was good and encouraging most of the time. They forced the Knicks to turn the ball over 26 times and scored 37 points out of it. However, It will be interesting to see it against stronger teams.
We need to see more cutting and less standing at the corner outside the three points line by Roberson. Hopefully, Donovan will figure out a way to get this work without putting Dre on the bench.
First career points for Terrence Ferguson and Dakari Johnson.
The Thunder shot 43.3% from the floor, 28.9 from three, and 72.7% from the FT line.
Oklahoma City finished with 41 rebounds, 26 assists, 14 steals, 7 blocks, and 18 turnovers.
The Thunder will play in Utah against the Jazz on Saturday night, 8 pm CT.