OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell who?
Right, that’s a little much, because the Thunder will be thrilled when a full-strength Russell Westbrook returns to their lineup.
Nonetheless, Wednesday night made it four victories in five games — and 9 of 10 overall — since the former league MVP and two-time-season-triple-doubler went down with a badly sprained left ankle against New Orleans, knocking him out of the lineup since.
OKC, wearing its new Native American inspired “City Edition” uniforms for the first time, rolled past the New York Knicks 128-103.
The game was never really a game. Oklahoma City led 8-6 early, yet that quickly became 19-8 after a quick 11-2 run fueled by six points from Paul George and five from Jerami Grant.
The Thunder took their first 10-point lead less than 5 minutes into the game on the way to a 37-point first quarter and their first 20-point edge 2:05 before the half on the way to a 65-49 intermission advantage.
“It started with defense,” center Steven Adams said, “and we’d get stops and then we’d get out and run.”
OKC’s dominance could be measured by who didn’t play a single minute of the fourth quarter — George — and who played every minute of the fourth quarter — two-way-contract man Deonte Burton.
George, though, could hardly have minded after playing 29 of the game’s first 36 minutes and scoring 35 points on 13 of 25 shooting and 5 of 11 3-point shooting, collecting seven rebounds and dishing five assists along the way.
“My body’s just been feeling good,” said George, who canned 17 of his points in the third quarter. “I feel like I’ve played myself into a good shape.”
That might go for everybody.
Adams finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, Dennis Schroder added 15 points and a season-high 12 assists. Grant added 15.
Off the bench, Hamidou Diallo added an eventful 11 points that came with a botched dunk in the fourth quarter that should make every SportsCenter. Of course, things were going so well for the Thunder (9-5), Abdel Nader complemented Diallo’s botch with his own circus follow that somehow fell through the net.
“Give our guys credit for coming out and being ready to go,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
Oklahoma City shot a cooly efficient 53.7 percent (51 of 95) overall, 48.5 percent (16 of 33) from 3-point land and even a stout 83.3 percent (10 of 12) from the free-throw line. The Thunder also finished with 32 assists to the Knicks’ 17.
“I thought we generated good shots,” Donovan said. “We’re moving the ball very well.”
The Knicks (4-11) were never closer than 12 points after the half. And, less than six minutes after pulling within 12, they were down 27.
New York shot 44.3 percent (39 of 88) overall, 26.9 percent (7 of 26) from the 3-point arc and 78.3 percent (18 of 23) from the free-throw line.
The Knicks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 20 points and former Thunder center Enes Kanter’s 19. Without Kanter’s 8 of 11 accuracy, the Knicks shot just 40.3 percent from the field.
It’s unclear if Westbrook might be back in time for a three-game road trip that begins Saturday at Phoenix.
But if he isn’t, Oklahoma City’s already proven it can play very well in his absence.
“We’re having fun now,” Schroder said. “Everybody’s together, everybody’s sharing the ball.”