OKLAHOMA CITY — The Knicks left New York immediately following an embarrassing loss to the Thunder on the Garden floor barely one week ago.
They headed back home Monday night after sealing a winning record on a daunting five-game road trip with a redemptive victory over the team that smashed them for 145 points on Nov. 13 at MSG.
Jalen Brunson poured in 23 of his season-high 34 points in the second half — and Julius Randle and RJ Barrett bounced back from poor shooting performances Sunday in Phoenix to score 25 points apiece — as the Knicks seized a 129-119 victory at Paycom Center.
“What I was thinking about was they kind of punked us last time,” Brunson said of the Thunder. “I wasn’t really thinking about exactly how they did it.
“They had the mentality that we didn’t last time we were on the court. My whole mindset was just, ‘Let’s play hard, let’s play harder than them for 48 minutes and whatever happens, happens.’ We were able to come out with a win.”
Randle, who scored a season-low nine points against the Suns, finished with 25 and 11 rebounds, while Barrett busted out of a five-game slump with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Brunson connected on 14 of 20 field-goal attempts and also registered nine assists.
Immanuel Quickley added 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Quentin Grimes had eight in 33 minutes in his second straight start as the Knicks evened their record at 9-9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder (7-10) with 30 points after netting 37 in the Thunder’s eruption at MSG.
“They definitely had our attention from what they did in the Garden,” Quickley said. “Any time somebody puts up, like, 150 points on the board, your antenna has to go up.
“We learned from the film and we learned from what they did and we brought a little more energy and effort and we’re seeing the results. We got a much needed dub.”
The Knicks had split the first four games of the trip — wins over the Jazz and Nuggets followed by losses to the Warriors and the Suns. Those four teams entered Monday’s action with a combined record of 25-4 on their home courts, with the lone losses for Utah and Denver coming last week against the Knicks.
“The thing is it’s like the games keep coming. We knew it would be a challenge and sometimes going on the road is good for you,” Tom Thibodeau said. “We figured each game individually, went step by step. We know we have a lot of work to do. We have to continue to improve. This gives us a chance to get home, another day of recovery and we can get back to work.”
To salvage a winning record on the five-in-seven-days excursion, Thibodeau certainly needed a better effort defensively against Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder than the Knicks put forth when they were smacked for the most points they’ve allowed in any game this season in a 145-135 home loss at the Garden eight days earlier.
The Knicks had eight steals in the first half, with Grimes and Miles McBride — playing in place of Cam Reddish (groin) and Derrick Rose (toe) — earning praise from Thibodeau for their ball pressure.
Barrett, who inked a four-year extension worth a guaranteed $107 million over the summer, hardly could say the same over his previous five games. He’d missed 23 of 25 attempts from 3-point range while connecting on just 26.3 percent from the floor overall (20-for-76) over his previous five appearances.
After totaling just 21 points on 7-for-22 shooting against the Suns, Barrett and Randle combined for 16 in the first quarter alone Monday as the Knicks constructed a 38-34 lead through one and 69-58 at halftime.
The Thunder slashed a 17-point Knicks cushion to seven midway through the third, but Brunson netted 12 in the quarter for a 98-87 game entering the final period.
“We want to go home. But it was a great win to end the trip,” Barrett said. “We really stayed together through this whole entire trip, so to end it off with a win like this, was good, but we gotta get home.”