Balanced Thunder clobber Knicks
NEW YORK — Danilo Gallinari scored 22 points in 27 minutes and was one of six Oklahoma City players to finish in double figures as the Thunder routed the New York Knicks 126-103 on Friday night.
Chris Paul added 21 points and 12 assists for Oklahoma City, which has won two straight an seven of 10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 18 points. Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo had 16 and 12, respectively, off the bench, and Steven Adams contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite an 18-point performance from Elfrid Payton, New York has dropped consecutive games, and has lost eight of 10. RJ Barrett scored 17 points, Bobby Portis added 14, Julius Randle chipped in with 12, and Mitchell Robinson had 11.
The matchup between a team readying itself for the upcoming playoffs and the other preparing for the draft lottery played out exactly as expected.
The Thunder began to take control of the game midway through the second quarter and led 61-48 at halftime. They did not let up in the second half as the advantage grew to 34 points after Paul drilled a 3 with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City is guard-oriented team, but that didn’t stop the Thunder from attacking the interior. They finished with 58 points in the paint.
THUNDER: The game could have been Paul’s audition for the Knicks, as there is speculation suggesting the long-beleaguered franchise could trade for Oklahoma City’s veteran point guard this summer. Paul, whose former agent Leon Rose is now the president of the Knicks, entered the game averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 assists, and was named to the All-Star team. Paul, 34, is in his 15th season. He has has two years left on a four-year, $159.7 million contract that pays him an average salary of $39.9 million. He will be 36 years old when the deal expires at the end of the 2021-22 season.
KNICKS: Amongst other aspects of the game, perimeter shooting has not been New York’s forte this season. The Knicks entered the game averaging .338 percent shooting from 3, which ranks 27th in the league. By comparison, New York’s opponents have made .383 percent of 3s against the Knicks this season.
It is likely both sets of numbers will change, as the Knicks misfired on 20 of 24 3-pointers while allowing the Thunder to knock down 38.7% from behind the arc.
NOTES: The game was the first of two regular-season matchups between the teams. They will play once more, April 10, in Oklahoma City. … Prior to the game, New York interim coach Mike Miller announced Mitchell Robinson would be able to play after the second-year center missed the Knicks’ 112-104 loss to Utah on Wednesday due to an injured hamstring. The news wasn’t all positive, as Miller said guard Dennis Smith Jr. was undergoing concussion protocol. … Friday night’s game was a homecoming of sorts for Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who grew up in Rockville Centre, Long Island, which is about a 28-mile drive from Madison Square Garden. “It certainly brings back a lot of memories,” Donovan said. “I can remember jumping on the Long Island Railroad and buying a $5 ticket and trying to (make) my way down as close as I could to the court to watch games.” … Before the game and during stoppages in play, both the Knicks and Thunder honored fire, police and rescue personnel in New York and Oklahoma City who responded to the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
THUNDER: Visit Boston Sunday.
KNICKS: Host Detroit Sunday.
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