OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook’s four-point possession happened in the most typical way.
He had already made his first free throw, but No. 2 clanked off the right side of the rim and ricocheted to the left. Oklahoma City led New York by eight points, but hadn’t yet clinched the game. The dagger wouldn’t come until Westbrook fed forward Jerami Grant for a 3 to put the Thunder up 15 two possessions later.
No, at this point, the Knicks were still in it. And Westbrook was about to do some Westbrook things to make sure that wasn’t the case. He dribbled back to the middle of the floor following the offensive board and tossed to Grant down by the basket, who fed it back to his star point guard in the right corner. Westbrook pump-faked on Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony and drained a 3.
It wasn’t the easiest way to formulate a four-point play. But the Thunder weren’t into easy during their 116-105 win over the Knicks.
Westbrook didn’t stop with that 3, either.
Next: Another offensive rebound, another Westbrook 3.
Next: The drive-and-kick to Grant, who nailed a 3 from the corner.
The Thunder hit 12 3-pointers. Westbrook sank three on the way to 38 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists, his 27th triple-double of the season. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo splashed in three 3s and finished with 21 points. Grant made two.
It was a welcomed change for a team that’s 29th in 3-point-shooting percentage and has struggled from the arc even more than usual of late.
“Why they went in today, why they didn’t go in [before], I don’t know,” coach Billy Donovan said.
It was consistent with a concept Donovan has peddled all season: Things look good when shots go in the basket. They didn’t early Wednesday night, though, and the Knicks were making seemingly everything to start the game.
If Monday’s 22-point loss in Washington was a result of a hangover following Saturday’s emotional loss to Golden State, then early against the Knicks, it was looking like the weekend’s festivities must have been quite the bender.
The Thunder trailed by 17 in the second quarter to a Knicks team that was 10 games under .500 coming into the night and couldn’t stop scoring once the game began. Anthony started 7 of 7 from the field, even amidst tough defense from OKC wing Andre Roberson. Knicks point guard Derrick Rose moonwalked his way to reverse layups.
“We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in that first quarter,” Donovan said. “I thought it had less to do with us and more to do with New York. I thought they really played well.”
But Westbrook took over come the second quarter. He dished out seven assists in that period as the Thunder assaulted the rim. Oklahoma City’s attack on the paint wasn’t limited to Westbrook, either.
Oladipo lived near the rim. Every one of his 17 shot attempts came either at the rim or from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I like the way he played tonight, because he was attacking the paint,” Donovan said. “He was attacking downhill.”
Oladipo scored 12 in the second quarter to help the Thunder to a 62-60 halftime lead.
“It was great to see our guys respond the way they did,” Donovan said.
The Thunder now enter their time of rest, an All-Star break that comes with nine days between games.
They don’t play again until the Los Angeles Lakers come to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Feb. 24. But with the win over the Knicks following losses to the Warriors and Wizards, that week-plus won’t be nearly as frustrating as it could have been.