It was inevitable Russell Westbrook would take over another game for the Thunder.
His fourth quarter performances have been nothing short of spectacular this season, often going on scoring barrages that leave opposing teams cross-eyed and clueless as to what just transpired on the court.
His latest effort helped the Thunder get the job done again. Oklahoma City beat the Knicks 116-105 Wednesday night and Westbrook helped make the All-Star break sweeter for the Thunder.
The Thunder have nine days off before the Lakers come to Chesapeake Energy Arena. But Wednesday was still an important game; Westbrook make that known before shoot around.
His 27th triple-double of the season – 38 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists – was another showing of his incredible performances this season. The triple-double was his third quickest of the season.
His fourth quarter takeover started when Westbrook ran to the perimeter after he missed a free throw. Westbrook was matched up with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.
Westbrook sized up Anthony, crossed him over before stepping back and hitting a three over Anthony’s out-stretched arm. Westbrook then held up three fingers to his head – a signature move of Anthony’s – as the Knick ran past. The shot put OKC up 105-94 with 5:09 remaining.
The next possession, Westbrook sized up his defender and knocked down another 3-pointer after a Thunder offensive rebound. The next Knicks’ possession, he blocked Derrick Rose’s layup attempt and got his 12th assist off a Jerami Grant three. That shot put OKC up 111-96 and ended the Knicks’ hopes of a comeback on the plains.
But Westbrook wasn’t done. With 1:36 left, Westbrook stole a pass from Kristaps Porzingis and annihilated yet another rim. Westbrook finished off the Knicks, but its the Thunder’s defense that won them the game.
Anthony scored 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first quarter. He made his first seven shots and OKC was down by 17 at one time. The Knicks scored 39 points in the first quarter and led by 12 going into the second.
Over the second and third quarters, the Thunder held the Knicks to 41 points and OKC led by eight going into the final period. Andre Roberson helped cool Anthony off. After the first quarter, Anthony shot 4-of-12 and scored 11 points. Rose scored 25 points, but no Knick could stop the incoming Westbrook takeover.
Victor Oladipo scored 21 points and Grant had 13 points to help the Thunder to a 32-25 record heading into the All-Star break. Their offense helped the Thunder outscore the Knicks 26-20 in the third quarter, a period the Thunder have struggled in this season.
OKC shot 12-of-23 from the three-point line, capped off from Westbrook’s two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and an Oladipo three that beat the third quarter buzzer. The Thunder entered the game tied for last in the NBA in three-point percentage. But that didn’t hold them back tonight.
Anthony scored his 29th and 30th points on a turnaround fadeaway to help bring the Knicks within seven, down 101-94 with 5:31 left. Then it was Westbrook’s time for another fourth quarter barrage.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Defend the three: B-
The Thunder survived a onslaught of three-pointers from the Knicks to start the game. New York made 6-of-8 threes in the first period and helped them start quickly. They made five 3-pointers the rest of the game and the Thunder found a way to contain the perimeter.
OKC had 48 rebounds and 12 offensive rebounds to the Knicks 39 rebounds and six offensive boards. On the first Thunder possession, they grabbed three offensive boards and set a tempo for the rest of the game that they were going to control the glass.
Hey Bench, show up: B-
The Thunder’s bench scored 30 points, led by Grant’s 13. The Knicks’ bench scored 15 points. Cameron Payne didn’t shoot well (0-of-6) but was creating offense and helped space the floor for a unit that has struggled with Enes Kanter’s absence.