Atlanta Hawks: Thunder 103, Hawks 94
Jamal had it going until the fourth. (AP Photo)
Oklahoma City–If you didn’t see this one, just think back to the Hawks’ game at Orlando (the first time), at Miami, at San Antonio, at Boston, at New Orleans. This was pretty much the same thing–hurt by turnovers, dribble penetration, poor shot selection–except for the gory sight of a cut on Smoove’s head.
- The Hawks are 2-6 in road games against teams with winning records. They either had the lead or were close to it in all of those Ls.
- “It’s definitely frustrating,” J.J. said. “We are so close and then we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Maybe it’s a few bad shots, or maybe a few turnovers. We’ve got to grow up in that area.”
- “You keep plugging,” L.D. said. “Hopefully at some point it will click in. We went into the fourth quarter with a two-point game; that’s a great position to be in. It’s a little frustrating but still I am encouraged we are putting ourselves in that position.”
- This game probably won’t do much to sway L.D. from his tendency to favor his shotmakers. He sat Bibby for the entire fourth quarter and played Damien Wilkins. The Hawks scored just 15 points while holding the Thunder to 18 (when not including Ibaka’s bush-league dunk at the end).
- Then again, it’s not as if the Hawks had the right guys taking good shots.
- “It’s a little frustrating,” Josh said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the bucket at the end. We have got to be able to overcome. Jamal had it going pretty much the whole game and we kind of went away from that a little bit.”
- One reason they went away from it is because Josh started jacking jump shots in the fourth. He was poised for a triumphant return after going to the locker room in the third quarter with a nasty gash courtesy of Ibaka’s teeth.
- But with the Hawks down 85-81 and in need of good possessions, Josh fired up a 21-footer with 12 seconds on the shot clock. After Jamal missed a 3, Smoove came down and threw up a 3 with 16 seconds on the shot clock.
- Jamal was incredibly efficient: 26 points, 8 of 15 field goals, 7 of 9 free throws, five steals, three assists and no turnovers. “My legs are getting back under me,” he said.
- But when he missed three of four baskets in the fourth quarter Joe (1 of 4) and Josh (1 of 4) couldn’t help out. Al might have done so but he sat early in the fourth quarter after he was forced to play the entire third quarter with Josh out (you can forget about interior D covering up the inevitable assaults at the basket if one or the other isn’t in there).
- J.J. missed three straight open jumpers after making his first and never really got on track. “I think we put various guys on him and made it tough on him,” Durant said. “He missed some shots that he normally makes but for the most part we did a decent job on him.”
- It’s tough to criticize Joe too much when he had 11 assists against one turnover while being hounded all night. But there comes a time when he has to stop shooting when they aren’t going in.
- “He missed typical Joe shots but he did have 11 assists and he was chasing Westbrook for the most part,” Drew said. “The last couple of games he is guarding guys he wouldn’t be normally matched up with.”
- That’s another byproduct of Atlanta’s lack of perimeter defenders in the rotation.
- “It may be a little tough at times because defensively I am normally guarding their main guy,” Joe said. “Then offensively I’m coming down and fighting against two or three other guys. So it’s tough and frustrating at times. But that’s neither here nor there. We could just make the easy plays and then things wouldn’t be so difficult but we just don’t do that.”
- After the Hawks limited Golden State’s 3-pointers on Wednesday, the Thunder made 10 of 18. Of course some of those were high degree of difficulty daggers from Durant, who made all three of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter.
- “They are a really good offensive team,” L.D. said. “They made some big shots. We tried to keep [Durant] off balance but when it came down to when they had to make a shot, he was the guy who knocked them down. You have to give them credit because defensively we mixed it up but he’s a shotmaker.”
- The Hawks tried to play at the Thunder’s pace early and nearly got buried. They could have kept it closer if J.J. was hitting but they never could get consistent stops.
- “We made very, very carless mistakes, careless turnovers,” Drew said. “The shot selection was not good. We talked about that at the very beginning. Against a team like Oklahoma you have to conrol tempo and limit their momentum. We turned the basketball over, had some ill-advised shots.”
- Josh ended up not getting stitches for that gash: “I thought I needed some but they said no.”
- “When I saw it, I got a little lightheaded, to be quite honest,” Drew said. “It wasn’t pretty at all. He came back with an aggression. I was very surprised he did come back.”
- Josh was upset about Ibaka’s dunk. The shot clock was off and the Thunder were up 101-92. “That’s a sign of disrespect,” Josh said. “Everybody in the whole league knows that you don’t do nothing like that. We remember something like that.”
- Smoove had a conversation with Durant about the play: “He said he was going to handle it because he knew that wasn’t right.”
- The basket gave Westbrook his 10th assist for a triple-double.”It doesn’t matter,” Drew said. “You run the clock out. The game is over. You don’t make that kind of play.”
- While it should be noted that L.D. left Josh in a game at Toronto so he could get an assist to complete his triple-double, the difference was that it happened with 4:30 left.
- Happy New Year, blog people.