After all the transactions, trades, and drama of the offseason, The New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder both played their first regular season game against each other. The Thunder have high expectations for the season, while the Knicks are expected to have one of the worst records in the NBA. After all the bad blood between Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks in the past year, it was only proper his first game as a member of the Thunder was against his former team. Anthony opened the scoring by hitting a three pointer. It was him who got the last laugh in this game, as the Thunder topped the Knicks 105-84.
New York Knicks Opening Night: The Kristaps Porzingis Era Begins
Same Old Knicks
New York started the game surprisingly well. After all the talk of practicing defense in the off-season, it seemed to have worked. They held the Thunder to only 10 points through the first five minutes of the game. The Knicks stayed competitive and held the Thunder in check with about two minutes to go in the second quarter. During those last two minutes however, the Thunder went on a 8-0 run to end the first half. The second half would look a lot different from the first. The Thunder’s big three started to get into gear, and the Knicks sloppy play led to their eventual defeat.
The one major problem with New York was that their transition defense was highly suspect. Oklahoma City scored 35 fast break points during the game. One of the reasons for this was because New York had no good defenders to guard against Russell Westbrook and he made them pay. At one point Ron Baker was guarding Westbrook, which is a battle the Knicks will lose every time. This was not the only defensive flaw by the Knicks. They allowed 46 points in the paint. There were too many defensive mismatches that allowed easy passes right under the basket.
Porzingis’s Adjustment to the Top Option
The one shining light for New York was their prized big man Porzingis. He tallied a double double in his first game of the season and showed once again he is the definitive number one player in New York. Scoring 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, the only other player to score in double digits was newly acquired center Enes Kanter, who was also playing against his former team. The rest of the Knicks left much to be desired in terms of scoring. Tim Hardaway Jr., who signed that big contract in the off-season, was lackluster scoring only eight points. Although this was the first game, New York has a lot to prove if they want to show they are not the bottom dwellers of the East.
The New Big Three
The Thunder’s new acquisitions did not disappoint. With questions about whether these star scorers could share the ball, they proved they could. Westbrook, Paul George, and Anthony all scored over 20 points. Westbrook especially looked comfortable with his new teammates, shooting an efficient 7-12 from the field while racking up 16 assists and tallying his 80th career triple double. It is scary to think about how many assists Westbrook can average this year with all these scorers on the team. Although the Knicks did not pose much of a challenge, there was a lot to like from the Thunder. The chemistry was there and they played hard. This game was a good start for a team that is ready to test themselves against the best teams in the NBA.