In place of Darnell Mayberry’s traditional postgame nuggets…
1. Massacre - When coming off a loss, this Thunder team is focused. When focused, this Thunder team is a hyper-athletic buzzsaw. So Carmelo or not, this one was always destined to be a double-digit laugher. The 9-19 Knicks just aren’t a good basketball team right now. And through 28 games, OKC can make a strong case that it’s the best in all the land. So this was inevitable. But that said, what an offensive clinic put on by the Thunder. Thirteen assists on their first 14 field goals. Thirty-two assists in the game. A season-high 123 points. It felt like one of those preseason high school scrimmages, where the Varsity team uses its JV understudies as a confidence booster.
2. Star treatment - Put this stat in my gamer, but it’s all you really need to know from this one: Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka went a combined 20-of-30 for 53 points. The Knicks entire starting lineup went 18-of-49 for 44 points. And that’s without even mentioning Russell Westbrook, who dropped his seventh career triple-double (14 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), controlling the pace throughout and making the depleted Knicks backcourt (Beno Udrih, lol) look like they were playing in quicksand.
3. Thabo busting out? - Quietly, Thabo Sefolosha has hit a three-pointer in four straight games. Doesn’t seem too noteworthy, considering he had a string of eight straight games three separate times last year. But it is, because Thabo hasn’t been nearly the same shooter he was a season ago (from 42 percent from deep to 29 percent). And before this four-game streak, he only had one three in his previous seven games and two in his previous nine. So it’s a positive sign. Maybe he’s breaking out of it a bit.
4. Bench - Part of me wishes Scott Brooks would have gone all Gregg Popovich an hour before tip on Wednesday, announcing KD, Westbrook and Ibaka would sit once he learned the Carmelo news. That way, we would have had the Thunder’s second-unit facing the Knicks remaining roster. Who’d be favored? I’d take OKC’s reserves. The way they’re playing, they’d probably be a 6-seed in the East. On Wednesday, Reggie Jackson had 18 (including 15 in a dominant fourth quarter), Jeremy Lamb had 13 on 5-of-8 shooting and, combined, the bench had a plus/minus of +67.
5. New York - The Garden was packed early, with a special Christmas vibe buzzing through the arena long before tip. But once the game started, there just wasn’t much for Knicks fans to cheer about. But I thought they were still great, in a hilarious sort of way. A couple dudes near the press seating (section 215) were trying to drum up ‘Fire Mike Woodson’ chants all game. They even got some kid (probably about nine) to loudly join in. Another fan when Amare went off for some meaningless points in the fourth quarter: “Oh, great, of course Amare’s going to have his breakout performance when it doesn’t matter. We’ll probably throw another $100 million at him after the game.” Moments later, after some contemplating: “Actually, this could get his trade value up!!”. The city, of course, was great. Times square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State building, the history of MSG. So much to see, too little time. Also, provides for a great view on the flight in:
-J.R. Smith: 20 points on 22 shots, a game-low plus/minus of -32. Kevin Durant: 29 points on 16 shots, a game-high plus/minus of +22. Sounds about right.
-Kevin Durant’s last four Christmas games: 34.0 points per game on 60 percent shooting (46-of-76) and 57 percent from three (12-of-21).
-Original Thunder coach P.J. Carlisimo was in the OKC locker room postgame, exchanging pleasantries with some of his former players. As he left, he told them: “Keep this thing going”
-During an in-timeout video, the Knicks played a pre-taped game, asking their players to name Santa’s reindeer. Former Thunder center Cole Aldrich got about seven. The rest of his teammates combined for about two.
-Up next: At Charlotte on Friday.
Play of the day
Reggie Jackson Christmas Day poster on the power forward formerly known as Amare Stoudemire
Runner-up: Westbrook to KD for an alley-oop from around halfcourt. Check out this cool slow-mo view of it:
Beno Udrih LOL moment of the game