OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned from a one-game absence to attain 23 factors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat a depleted New York Knicks staff 95-80 on Friday night time.
Gilgeous-Alexander, the reigning NBA Western Conference Player of the Week, sat out Wednesday’s loss at Phoenix with ankle soreness, however performed a team-high 34 minutes. Aaron Wiggins scored 13 and Ty Jerome had 11 factors.
The Thunder got here into the sport giving up 108.2 factors per recreation. The Knicks’ whole was the bottom for an Oklahoma City opponent all season.
Gilgeous-Alexander credited the staff’s mindset in posting their finest defensive efficiency of the 12 months.
“Every night we try to make the paint difficult for teams,” Gilgeous-Alexander mentioned. “We know that’s where the best shots are generated. I think that was the main focus tonight. And we executed it.”
RJ Barrett had 26 factors and Immanuel Quickley scored 11 for the Knicks, who have been with out Julius Randle and Kemba Walker.
It was a particular night time for Thunder assistant coach Mike Wilks, who took over this week for coach Mark Daigneault, who’s within the NBA’s well being and security protocol. Wilks acquired his first win and after the sport, Thunder gamers showered him with water and awarded him with the sport ball.
Wilks mentioned it was definitely memorable to get the victory on New Year’s Eve.
“Everybody in the organization contributed to this,” Wilks mentioned. “Our coaching staff did a phenomenal job. And the players came out and played the right way. So glad we came out on top tonight.”
The Knicks led by as many as 9 within the first quarter behind fast begins from Mitchell Robinson and Evan Fournier. But Jerome made a 3-pointer within the last minute of the primary quarter to offer Oklahoma City its first lead, 23-20, and by no means trailed the remainder of the way in which.
Jerome opened the second quarter with one other 3-point basket, then fed Theo Maledon for one more 3 to finish a 9-0 run.
Oklahoma City went up by 10 within the second quarter, however Barrett accomplished a drive simply earlier than halftime to make it 51-49 in favor of the Thunder.
New York scored six straight to open the fourth quarter to chop the Thunder result in 74-71, however Oklahoma City responded with a 7-0 run to push the lead again to double digits.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau lamented his staff’s poor rebounding and 54% taking pictures on the foul line. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for New York
“If you defend and you rebound — the thing is giving up the second shots,” Thibodeau mentioned. “We should’ve had more, ourselves, second shots and we didn’t. And we didn’t make free throws. That was problematic, also.”
Thunder: Oklahoma City was with out starters Josh Giddey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for the third straight recreation, together with reserves Darius Bazley and Tre Mann. Assistant Mike Wilks additionally coached the Thunder for the second straight recreation, with coach Mark Daigneault within the well being and security protocol. Wilks acquired his first win. … After seeing his 46-game streak of video games with a made 3-pointer snapped on Wednesday, Lu Dort linked on one late within the third quarter — his first basket of the sport after lacking his first 9 pictures.
Knicks: Lost in Oklahoma City for the primary time since 2018. … Shot simply 8 of 41 (19.5%) from the 3-point line, however did a get a uncommon four-point play from Alec Burks when he was fouled on a made 3 from the highest of the important thing within the first half and transformed the free throw that adopted.
Knicks: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
Thunder: Host Dallas on Sunday.
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