Best Win of the Year So Far. NY 129 Oklahoma City 119

It was the best win of the season so far. The NY Knicks used DEFENSE to contain the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma — jumping out to a double-digit lead and maintaining it throughout in the 129-119 win.

Oklahoma is a team the Knicks could not stop just a week ago in being blown out at Madison Square Garden, 145-135, after the Knicks had scored 48 points in the 1st quarter. It was a revenge match — and the Knicks got their revenge.

And RJ Barrett got his redemption. Barrett broke out of his shooting slump in a big way with an efficient 10-16 shooting night, including 3-4 from 3, for 25 points. Immanuel Quickley broke out of his shooting slump too — netting 18 off the bench on 6-8 shooting (4 of 5 from 3). And Julius Randle powered home 25 points.

But it was Jalen Brunson who was the difference maker. Time and time and time again — when Oklahoma mounted comebacks in the 3rd and 4th quarters — Jalen Brunson put the Knicks on his shoulders with clever drives to the bucket that culminated in his lethal midrange jumper. He was 13 for 14 from 2-point range for 34 points and 9 assists.

“They’re tough to guard, they’re big; they’re quick,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards about Oklahoma City. “It requires you to make multiple effort on almost every play. They’re very good at moving without the ball. But I liked our togetherness on both offense and defense. I thought we had a number of guys stepped up and played well. You can start with Deuce and Quentin with ball pressure. And then RJ had a big game; Jules had a big game, and of course Jalen had a Monster game. I thought Mitch gave us good minutes at the beginning of the game just protecting the rim, and then Isaiah went in and did a good job, and then Jericho. We needed everyone. It was a good solid team win for us.”

NY improves to 9-9 after a successful 3-2 West Coast road trip. Just a week ago, NY embarked on that road trip after getting Ripped by Oklahoma and the sky was falling. Oklahoma drops to 7-10.


1. Barrett Came Out Firing Efficiently

RJ Barrett who was in a horrendous shooting slump — supposedly because he has been ill and playing sick with some sort of head cold or flu — came out hitting every shot he took. He started by hitting a pullup jumper early in the game, then drove to the basket and Slam Dunk — and followed with a 3 and a jumper near the end of the quarter to put NY up 38-32.

He would hit his first three 3’s of the night.

Barrett afterwards said he felt much better and had his legs under him now.

2. Quickley Joined Barrett with Efficiency

Immanuel Quickley had also been in a mini slump and came out hitting his shots. Quickley entered midway thru the 1st quarter and started with a drive and floater. At the end of the period he hit two 3’s — and was on his way to the big night.

3. Knicks Set the Tone Defensively

In the 2nd quarter, coach Tom Thibodeau brought Miles McBride into the game — as Cam Reddish is still out with a groin injury, and Evan Fournier is now wedded to the bench.

McBride teamed with Quentin Grimes and Quickley to give the Knicks a razor sharp defensive backcourt.

Brunson soon replaced McBride but the Knicks defensive intensity continued.

Quentin Grimes especially looked spectacular — moving without the ball, scoring, passing, and playing great D on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Isaiah Hartenstein played great defensively when he was in — blocking shots at the rim and diving for loose balls.

4. Randle & Sims Powered Against Oklahoma’s Front Line

As the 2nd quarter progressed, Julius Randle started to Dominate for buckets inside, as did Jericho Sims and Mitchell Robinson (a slam off a beautiful Brunson pass).

Oklahoma had nothing to stop the Knicks inside muscle — until they brought Darius Bazley into the game late in the 2nd quarter. Bazley blocked an Obi Toppin dunk and started to neutralize the Knicks inside but even so NY pulled out to an 8-pt lead at 52-44, and when Bazley came out, NY upped it to 16 by the end of the half as Randle and Sims continued to dominate inside.

5. Brunson to the Rescue in 3rd and 4th

Oklahoma would not go away and continued to knock on the door throughout the 3rd and 4th quarters — pulling to within 7 points several times. Oklahoma tried a zone defense; a pressure defense — but each time there was Jalen Brunson making another Big Play and Big Drive to push Oklahoma back.

Even with a minute left and NY up by 11 points, Oklahoma was playing a pressure defense and you felt they might come back with a bunch of 3’s in a row. But they didn’t. NY beat their pressure D for slams and layups for the win.

The Boxscore



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