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After a shellacking in Milwaukee, the hurting New York Knicks tried their luck with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Josh Benjamin

The New York Knicks were banged up as could be heading into Saturday’s tilt with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It didn’t even matter that OKC was without star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. New York was also shorthanded as Elfrid Payton was out with a sore hamstring, and bench spark Derrick Rose remained out due to health protocols.

Throw in Immanuel Quickley’s sore groin, and the issues kept piling up for New York. But staying at the hotel, eating giant bowls of Crunch Berries, and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn’t an option. Talk about an epic Saturday!

But, as the immortal Freddie Mercury once said, the show must go on.

And how did the short-handed Knicks perform on Saturday? Let’s begin.

 

1st quarter: Stumbling out of the gate

There’s no sugar-coating this. The New York Knicks played atrociously in the first quarter. They trailed 31-22 at the end and just couldn’t get their long-range game going. The team shot just 12.5% from three in the first and also played shoddy defense.

The shorthanded Thunder, meanwhile, shot over 71% from the field in the first and controlled the game despite five turnovers. If the Knicks were going to get back in the win column, their overall effort would have to change.

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Halftime report: Bizarro Knicks

The New York Knicks smartened up fast in the second quarter, playing completely different basketball than they did in the first. They outscored the Thunder 34-23 in the second and led 56-54 at the half.

Alec Burks and Julius Randle each had nine points in the second, and Quickley added two early threes to spark New York. The Knicks were in complete control on offense and just communicated better across the board.

Hopefully, the momentum would carry over into the second half.

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3rd quarter: Oh What a Barrett-ful Morning

Oh what a Barrett-ful MOOOOOOOOOORRRRNNNIIIINNNGGGGGG, oh what a Barrett-ful DAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY–

Okay, so maybe being in Oklahoma and referencing the musical accordingly was a stretch, but RJ Barrett just went off in the third quarter. The second-year star scored 13 points in the third and provided tons of energy as the New York Knicks maintained complete control of the game.

The score was 93-83 after the third, just one quarter remaining for New York to get a statement win over the Thunder. Would Barrett be the man again, or someone else?

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4th quarter: A truly Julius occasion

The first quarter proved a fluke as the New York Knicks entered full ironclad defense mode in the fourth. Oklahoma City only managed 16 points in the final frame and wound up losing 119-97.

And in the fourth, the man of the hour was none other than Knicks All-Star Julius Randle, who scored nine of his 26 points in the quarter.

But that’s only half the story. Randle very, very quietly posted his second triple-double of the season and finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. In doing so, he became only the second Knick since Mark Jackson to record two triple-doubles in a season.

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Player of the game: RJ Barrett

No disrespect to Randle’s triple-double, but this game belonged to Barrett. His new and improved confidence was out full force in Oklahoma City today as the former Duke Blue Devil finished with a career-best 32 points on 21 shots, including a trio of threes.

If there were any doubts about his ability to be an elite star, this performance quieted them for a bit.

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