Before walking out of the Ford Center on Monday night, Mike D’Antoni tossed out a confession that no coach has ever claimed about the Thunder, an admission that said everything about where this team is and where it might be headed.
"They were impressive and long and got after us, and I think we were a little shocked at first,” said D’Antoni, the Knicks coach, after watching the Thunder thrash his team 106-88. Let that marinate in your minds for a moment. Less than three months into this NBA season, a team that finished with 23 victories a year ago is now collecting compliments for how it overwhelmed an opponent. The Thunder led by as many as 29 points and never trailed after taking an 8-6 advantage with 8:05 remaining in the first period. But because the Knicks were downright despicable — tossing up countless air balls and carelessly throwing around the rock — you might have missed the defensive number Oklahoma City put on New York. Bad as they were, the final figures (38.2 percent shooting by the Knicks and 21 Thunder points off 20 New York turnovers) do little to describe just how dominant Oklahoma City was. The Knicks’ starting five combined for 34 points, or four more than Kevin Durant’s game-high total. Chris Duhon and Danilo Gallinari had three points between the two of them, missing all 15 of their shot attempts and going 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, where the Knicks went 6 of 28. "They have definitely improved,” noted David Lee, who entered the game shooting 58 percent but was held to 5 of 18 from the field. With the win, Oklahoma City (21-16) moved a season-high five games over .500 and improved to 13-4 against the Eastern Conference.