Knicks cruise past Thunder 119-97 after shaky start

·2 min read

OKLAHOMA CITY — RJ Barrett scored 32 points and Julius Randle added 26 to lead the New York Knicks past the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-97 on Saturday.

The Knicks trailed by nine after one quarter after the Thunder shot 70.6% from the floor, but they outscored the Thunder 97-66 over the final 36 minutes.

Al Horford had 16 points to lead seven Oklahoma City players in double figures.

The Knicks overcame the deficit by forcing 18 turnovers while committing just 10 of their own. New York also outrebounded Oklahoma City 45-40 and grabbed seven more offensive boards than the Thunder.

The Knicks were coming off their worst defensive performance of the season, a 134-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. They responded, following the challenging first quarter, by holding the Thunder to just 42.4% from the floor in the last three periods.

The Thunder, missing leading scorer Shai Gilgeous Alexander, started fast with Luguentz Dort scoring eight of his 14 points in the first frame.

The Thunder couldn’t sustain their pace though, and the Knicks took command in the second quarter, outscoring Oklahoma City 34-23 to take a two-point lead into halftime.

Oklahoma City briefly retook the lead at the start of the third quarter, but it wouldn’t last. Barrett knocked down a 3-pointer with 10:19 left in the quarter and the Knicks led the rest of the way.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Isaiah Roby returned to the team’s starting five. He finished with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. … The Thunder move to 2-7 in the first game of a back-to-back and 11-18 when their opponent scores more than 100 points. ... Al Horford finished with a team-leading 16 points.

Knicks: Nerlens Noel received a warm welcome from the Thunder public address when starters were announced Saturday afternoon. Noel, who played for Oklahoma City the past two seasons, posted eight rebounds and two points. … Elfrid Payton (hamstring), Austin Rivers (personal) and Derrick Rose (COVID-19 health protocols) were unavailable. … Frank Ntilikina started for the second time this season. He had one assist and no points in seven minutes.

Next

Thunder: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

Knicks: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

Joe Buettner, The Associated Press