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Knicks give up 145 points in loss to Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) scores during the first half against the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) scores during the first half against the Knicks.
AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

The Knicks lost an embarrassing matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon, as they gave up 145 points in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd in a horrific defensive performance.

While the Knicks had their own solid offensive night, scoring 135 points, they couldn’t stop the Thunder’s attack on the other end of the court.

That loss brings the Knicks down to 6–7 on the season.

Point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for the Thunder with 37 points.

Five Oklahoma City players found themselves with double-digit points during the game, and the team shot 62.5% from the field (including a franchise record 67.4% in the first half), as New York looked destitute when trying to close in on opposing shooters.

Especially bad, the Knicks are giving up some of the most open threes in the NBA — allowing opposing shooters more than six feet of space from beyond the arc over 20 times per game.

Knicks offense 

The Knicks meanwhile, took advantage of the Thunder’s own bad defensive afternoon. They scored 46 points in the first quarter, which marked the most points in a single quarter in franchise history — which simply adds salt to the wounds of their loss. 

Cam Reddish, the on-again, off-again forward, who has been granted starting minutes in recent games this season, led the team with 26 points on 10-17 shooting, while embattled veteran power forward Julius Randle added another 25.

A bright spot for the Knicks was bench guard Immanuel Quickley, who had 24 points on 8-16 shooting, while adding five assists. He was also perhaps the best defensive presence the Knicks had all night. 

He has been pushing to get more minutes in the rotation this season, and Sunday’s game showed why he believes he deserves it — especially while fellow guard Evan Fournier posted zero points on 0-5 shooting in 20 minutes, and was a glaring defensive liability. 

Also notably absent from the Knicks’ offensive day was RJ Barrett, who went 2-10 from the floor, and finished with four points, zero assists and one total rebound. 

Most confoundingly, though, was the total absence of point guard Jalen Brunson in the final 17 minutes of the game. He had been playing well in the first three quarters (17 points, seven assists), but was relegated to the bench for the entire fourth quarter.

“We just got behind by so much that we were just looking for life,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said of his decision to leave Barrett on the bench. “The group that was in there gave us a little bit of a spark, so that’s where we went with it.”

The Thibodeau question

Despite scoring a lot, the game should nonetheless send alarm bells ringing throughout the Knicks organization because of this horrific defensive play. 

The porous defensive performance is especially distressing for “defensive-minded” Thibodeau, who has already become the target of fans’ ire through 13 games this year, with many people calling for him to be fired. 

Worse, the Thunder came into the season with a young roster ostensibly built to lose games, in an effort to tank for a better draft position — and they still managed to rout the win-now Knicks. 

New York’s previous record for most points allowed under Thibodeau’s leadership was 134. 

If Leon Rose and the team’s front office see this game, as well as their below-.500 winning percentage, as indicative of their future play this year, they may seriously look toward making a change on the sidelines.

The next Knicks game will come when they take on the Jazz in Utah on Tuesday. 

For more coverage of the Knicks, head to amNY.com.

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