Coming off their toughest loss of the season to date, the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to make a statement. Where better to do it than on Broadway.
The Thunder made it a Merry Christmas for fans back in Oklahoma City with a rout of the New York Knicks 123-94 in a Christmas Day matinee at Madison Square Garden. Derek Fisher finished with four points, two rebounds and was +16 in 15:16 in what is likely his last game at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
The Thunder came out of the gate on fire knocking down 70 percent of their first quarter attempts (14-of-20) and 13 of the 14 makes came with an assist. Russell Westbrook led the way in that department with six dimes and Kevin Durant led the way in the scoring column with 13 points.
“Our offense was probably the best we’ve played all season,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “The ball movement was good and the protection of the basketball was good. That’s something we’re trying to figure out and get better as the season goes along.”
But the Knicks hung in the first and despite their hit shooting the Thunder led by just six points after one. It wasn’t until the second quarter, when Fish and the second unit checked in that the Thunder began to pull away. In that frame, OKC’s defense held the Knicks to just 27 percent shooting allowing the Thunder to establish a lead as high as 17 points. They led by 14 at halftime.
“We closed the paint up and were able to get out to their shooters,” Durant explained. “We contested shots, so once we do that and make them shoot those tough two’s, we can get out (and run).”
The lead stretched again in the third to more than 20 points before settling in at 20 to start the fourth. In the final frame, the Oklahoma City bench put on a Broadway show as all five starters got the quarter off.
Six members of the bench contributed to OKC’s 36-point closing frame, including Fish, who proved the bank was open on Christmas by banking in a triple with 5:57 to go in what will likely be his last shot at the Garden. He checked out of the game for good 22 seconds later and watched from the bench as his teammates closed out a Christmas Day victory.