OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored a season-high 34 points, while RJ Barrett and Julius Randle each had 25 points to lead the New York Knicks to a 129-119 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Eight days ago, the Thunder beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, scoring 145 points and scoring 79 points in the opening half. But this time, New York’s offense held off Oklahoma City for the bulk of the game.
Coach Tom Thibodeau couldn’t say his team made specific adjustments in the rematch, pointing to more familiarity as the key to better defensive performance.
“They’re a tough cover. I don’t know if we would have done anything differently, but they got everyone’s attention last week,” Thibodeau said.
The Knicks took control in the second half when Immanuel Quickley came off the bench to score 12 of 18 points as New York built a double-digit lead, and eventually returned it to 16 with the starters.
Randolph had 16 points to lead his halftime lead as the Knicks had 11 points. Randolph completed a double-double, leading all in the game with 11.
Brunson took the third, 12 of his points as the Knicks claimed a halftime advantage heading into the final period. The offseason free agent signee reached his all-time high for the Knicks, hitting 13 of his 14 two-point attempts, missing just one in the final minute. He was more impressed with the way his colleagues rose to the occasion.
“It was a great effort. Jules got us going early and it helped open things up for me in the second half,” said Brunson. “I just tried to stay aggressive and take it on defense and I was lucky to drop shots tonight.”
With different players taking turns providing New York’s offense, Thibodeau encouraged his team to go through four quarters.
“I thought they were playing well for each other and they made a lot of good plays to get everyone going and create quality shots for each other,” Thibodeau said. “When you have that kind of balanced attack, I think it’s hard to key on one particular guy.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 30 points and Lu Dort added 24. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Oklahoma City against the Knicks.
Knicks: Complete a five-game West road sweep by losing the previous two games 3-2.
Thunder: The league led in the third quarter in scoring differential (+4.2), but the Knicks failed to cut the lead at halftime.
Knicks: Host the Trail Blazers on Friday.
Thunder: Host Nuggets on Wednesday.
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