A Carmelo Anthony three-pointer started it off and Russell Westbrook’s triple-double finished it off as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday, Oct. 19.
The Big Three combined for 71 points as the Thunder won their ninth straight season home opener.
The Knicks 84 points is the lowest Oklahoma City has allowed in a season opener in the Oklahoma City era. Previously, Oklahoma City held the Kings to 89 points in 2009.
Westbrook finished with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. The 16 rebounds are the 10th most in his career.
“You guys are used to it,” Anthony said. “I’m used to watching it. I’m used to going up against it. Now, to be on the other side of that on the same team as him, and to reap those benefits of what he can bring to the game — I’m excited about what we started out tonight, what we created tonight and where we’re headed.”
George finished with 28 points, including six three-pointers, as he was announced last in the lineup, often reserved for Westbrook
“It’s great,” George said. “The game comes so easy. I know I’m going to get those easy opportunities like I did tonight. It’s only going to make me better.”
Oklahoma City used a 17-6 run to end the first half to take the lead for good and never looked back. The Thunder pushed the lead out to 20 as the crowd erupted.
Anthony finished with 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting in his Thunder debut.
It was great seeing Enes Kanter back in the Peake. Steven Adams thought so, too. Oklahoma City’s $100 million man thrived against Kanter. Finishing plus-27 and 5-of-5 from the field. He also had five steals and three blocks.
“It felt weird because he knows my moves and everything,” Kanter said. “It definitely was good to see him and come back and play against those guys.”
Oklahoma City’s defense was on point all night long. Despite giving up 55.6 percent shooting in in the first frame, the Knicks only shot 36.1 percent for the remainder of the contest.
“The biggest thing for us was just our defense,” Head Coach Billy Donovan said. “I’ve been really pleased with that since the start of training camp. They’ve done a really good job defensively, schematically, trying to do the things we’re asking them to do.”
The good guys forced 26 turnovers into 38 points. Deflections and aggressive closeouts left the Knicks scrambling for anything that would go in. At one point it was only Ron Baker throwing up hail mary three-pointers to try and keep the Knicks remotely involved.
“We got our hands on a lot of those passes, deflecting, and then we turned our defense into offense. That’s what really put them away,” George said.
The Thunder (1-0) travels to Utah to play Rudy Gobert and the Jazz at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Oklahoma City then hosts the Timberwolves on Sunday night.
Keys to the Game
Bench performance: F
Only 16 points from the bench tonight. Heading into the fourth quarter, they only had five points. That is flat out unacceptable. You can luckily only get better from here. Oklahoma City needs to find some bench production immediately.
Paul George: A+
George nailed six three-pointers, scoring 28 points. He pulled down six rebounds and finished plus-23 on the floor. No. 13 was amazing on both sides of the ball. He closed out on three-point shooters and finished his offensive possessions. He was everything and more than we could have hoped for.
Limit Foul Trouble: A
Westbrook had four fouls but for the most part it was just being aggressive. Against a team like the Knicks, this is imperative to staying ahead of a team you’re significantly better than.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!