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    Thunder overcome sluggish start to end Knicks win streak at three

    Jan 9, 2021
    PHOTO: AP

    NEW YORK — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Hamidou Diallo scored a season-high 23 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame an ugly start to beat the New York Knicks, 101-89, on Friday night (Saturday, Manila time).

    Al Horford added 15 points and was practically the only offense early for the Thunder, who got almost nothing to fall at the start but got better as the game went along and improved to 4-1 on the road.

    "We just stick with it, no matter what it is," Gilgeous-Alexander said.

    RJ Barrett scored 19 points for the Knicks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Julius Randle, scoreless in the first half, finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

    "From top to bottom, we just didn't get it done," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We're capable of doing much better than we did."

    Oklahoma City came in scoring an NBA-low 102 points per game, the Knicks were 28th at 104.4, and even those paltry stats seemed way out of reach the way the game started.

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    The Thunder shot 20.8% in the first quarter — Horford had three of their five baskets — and trailed 24-15. But the Knicks managed just 18 in the second quarter and the game was tied at 42 at the half.

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    "I just felt like today on both ends of the floor, for whatever reason, we just didn't play for each other and it happens," Randle said. "You go through that, but the biggest thing is that we nip it in the bud right now and take care of it right now and get back to playing unselfish, playing for each other."

    Coach Mark Daigneault praised Diallo and the reserves who helped get the Thunder going after the starters were cold at the start.

    "They really amped it up and then we carried it through the rest of the game," Daigneault said.

    Gilgeous-Alexander was 6 of 7 for 12 points in the third quarter, when the Thunder opened a nine-point lead before Austin Rivers beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut it to 69-63. The Thunder broke it open with an 11-3 spurt in the fourth, with Gilgeous-Alexander's 3-pointer making it 89-76.

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    TIP-INS

    Thunder: Diallo had 11 rebounds. ... Daigneault coached his first NBA game at Madison Square Garden, but has been part of victories in the arena. He was a student manager at UConn from 2003-07 under Jim Calhoun, winning one Big East tournament title.

    Knicks: The Knicks have lost the last four meetings. ... Elfrid Payton scored 16 points but shot 4 for 16.

    NEW KNICK

    Thibodeau said the Knicks hoped Taj Gibson, signed Thursday, would be cleared to begin playing next week. The veteran forward played for Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota and spent last season with the Knicks, which made him a good fit for a short-handed frontcourt.

    "I think his career speaks for itself and obviously he embodies all the things that we believe in," Thibodeau said.

    FAMILIAR FACE

    Daigneault has on his staff Mike Miller, who finished last season as the Knicks' interim head coach after David Fizdale was fired. He previously coached the Knicks' team in the G League, where the coaches became acquainted.

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    "He did a great job here," Daigneault said. "He left a great impression here. Everyone here had great things to say about him. He's an old-school worker but a new-school thinker."

    UP NEXT

    Thunder: Visit Brooklyn on Sunday.

    Knicks: Host Denver on Sunday.

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      PHOTO: AP
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