RJ Barrett jumper over OKC defender black jersey
The Knicks finished their 2021 calendar year with a 95-80 loss the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
Here are the key takeaways…
– With Julius Randle (health and safety protocols) and Kemba Walker (sore left knee) both out, Obi Toppin and Miles McBride both made their first career starts for the Knicks. Meanwhile, Evan Fournier was a game-time decision with a sore right ankle, but he was deemed good to go prior to opening tip.
– The Thunder started without a true center, and Mitchell Robinson made them pay in the early minutes, collecting a quick six points. As a team, the Knicks hit five of their first eight shot, taking a 12-3 lead before the Thunder called a timeout.
The Knicks struggled from beyond the arc, making just one of their first eight threes, as both teams had shooting issues to start. Ty Jerome knocked down a couple late threes, and the Thunder took a 23-20 lead into the second. The Knicks shot just 30.8 percent from the floor, looking lost at times on offense without Randle on the floor.
– In the second, the Thunder continued to shoot well from three-point range (starting 8-of-17), pushing their lead to 10 points. The Knicks, on the other hand, started just 2-of-18 from downtown.
An RJ Barrett three in the final four minutes cut the OKC lead to four, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way with 16 first-half points as OKC held a 51-49 lead at the break. Barrett led the Knicks with 13 points in the first half as the team went 5-of-24 from the arc.
– The second half started with OKC picking up more momentum, as a Kenrich Williams three pushed the lead back up to 10 halfway through the quarter. Barrett attempted to spark the Knicks offense, but it was three-point defense that was the huge problem, with OKC hitting 14 of their first 31 from deep.
Barrett was up to 20 points by the end of the third, but he was the only Knick in double-digits. Gilgeous-Alexander also had 20 points through three, and the Thunder maintained a 74-65 lead into the final quarter.
– The Knicks stormed back to start the fourth, with Kevin Knox and Immanuel…