Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Hawks

THUNDER 90

HAWKS 97
3 Blocks by Serge Ibaka. The Thunder had 10 on the night

3 Steals by Kevin Durant. The Thunder had 7 on the night

7 Rebounds by Cole Aldrich, a career-high

8 Rebounds by Durant on the night, the team-high

14/17 Free throw shooting numbers for Kevin Durant

20-5 Thunder advantage in fast break points

25 Points by Russell Westbrook, including 3-for-3 to start the game from 3-point land

35 Points by Kevin Durant on the night, the game's leading scorer

The Thunder comes home and hosts the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then plays four more home games at Chesapeake Energy Arena, starting with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, then the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
The Thunder was hoping to make it a perfect three-for-three on its East Coast road trip to start the second half of the season, but 21 turnovers to only 11 assists on the offensive end was one aspect of the game against the Atlanta Hawks that led to a 97-90 loss. While it still had a chance down one point with just over two minutes to play, the Thunder couldn't convert on jump shots down the stretch and came away with only its eighth loss of the season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 60 points on the evening, but it wasn't enough to overcome a riled up Atlanta crowd and energetic Hawks team.

"I thought Atlanta played very well and physical and we didn't do a good job of protecting the basketball," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "They were knocking us out of our offense just by being physical. That's what they do, that's how they're successful. They're a very tough, playoff-minded team and we turned the ball over and gave up too many offensive rebounds. They scored on just about every offensive rebound, and to beat a good, playoff team on the road, that's hard to do, but we still gave ourselves a chance."

Westbrook, who scored 25 points and added four assists, had to leave Thursday night's game at Orlando due to an ankle sprain, but the tough-as-nails point guard gutted it out and played hard tonight. Coach Brooks says his fourth-year guard out of UCLA has the "heart of a lion", and the competitive former fourth overall draft pick praised the Thunder training staff after the game, saying that he spent the last two days trying to heal up in order to do whatever he could to help the team. In addition, he was introspective about the team's performance and where it could improve moving forward. Despite winning the fast break points battle 20-to-4, Westbrook thought the Thunder could have dictated the pace more throughout the night.

"I think we could have done a better job of getting some stops and getting out a little more than we usually can, but other than that I think we did a good job of getting out (on the break)," Westbrook said. "I did alright, I could have done a better job of defending and rebounding...Those loose balls can lead to fast breaks, so next game I'm going to do a better job of that."

Another positive for the Thunder tonight was the play of forward Cole Aldrich, the second-year man who had a career-high seven rebounds to go along with six points and three blocked shots tonight. The all-around effort and intensity level was high during Aldrich's 14 minutes of action, and it was apparent that the former University of Kansas star knows that is his current role on the Thunder squad.

"I think that is my job, just to come in whenever my name is called, just to go in and give the energy and rebound like I did tonight," Aldrich said. "We just have to come in and just play our normal game, be physical ourselves, rebound the ball and get out and run."

TURNING POINT:
The turning point in this one came late in the fourth quarter, although the Hawks led for most of the contest. The Thunder had whittled the deficit to just one point at 89-88 with 2:19 remaining after Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer after flaring to the corner off a screen. Atlanta forward Josh Smith then scored the final nine points for the Hawks, hitting a long 3-pointer then knocking down four-of-five free throws and a turnaround jumpshot. During that stretch the Thunder missed five straight jump shots, and the Hawks finished the game on an 8-2 run to win 97-90.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Russell Westbrook showing energy early getting into the passing lane, then Daequan Cook comes down with a defensive rebound in traffic... Good job by Kendrick Perkins to get back in transition defense... Then Perkins gets a tip-in on the offensive end by staying active... Huge helpside block by Serge Ibaka, who helps jumpstart a secondary break that saw Kevin Durant drop the ball off to Westbrook for a 3-pointer... Quick hands by Durant to slap the ball away from Josh Smith along the basline... Westbrook rises up from 3 from deep and drains it!... Nice passing from Perkins to Ibaka down low for a hook shot... Smart up-and-under move by Westbrook in the lane to free himself up... Reggie Jackson and Nazr Mohammed work the pick-and-pop to perfection... Good hustle by Nick Collison and Durant to corall a loose rebound... Tough box out by James Harden, who takes the ball the length of the floor to draw a foul and hit a layup... Beautiful step-through move by Harden in transition to get to the rim... Cole Aldrich brings some intensity and physicality on the defensive end... Great hustle by Aldrich and Collison to get on the floor for a loose ball and regain possession... Westbrook nails his third straight 3-pointer, then makes a steal and chucks it up-court to Harden, who dishes it to Aldrich for a dunk... Big steal in transition by Durant, who finds Westbrook to hit Ibaka with an alley-oop... Really good hustle by Harden to stick with an offensive rebound to give the Thunder another possession... Great positioning by Ibaka to box out on the defensive end and force an over-the-back foul... New positioning for Durant, who posts up low and in the middle of the lane, gets a nice hook shot... Durant shakes-and-bakes his defender, then frees himself up for a jumper to end the half.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Great recovery by Westbrook to double back and block a Jeff Teague layup attempt... Westbrook so good at that pivot step-through move to knock down an elbow jumper... Ibaka with a strong leap to grab an offensive rebound and put it back... Great hands by Durant and Ibaka to make steals in the lane that lead to transition baskets, one of which was a monster slam dunk by Ibaka off a nifty Durant feed... Durant playing tight defense on Marvin Williams on the outside, then goes in and grabs a defensive rebound... Nice cutting by Durant, then a good job by Collison to find him... Great job by Durant to defend a two-on-one and come away with the ball... Toughness out of Royal Ivey to tie up Zaza Pachulia... Wow!! Thunder plays a perfect defenseive sequence, capped by an Ibaka block that sends the ball into the third row... Thudner gets out in transition with a give-and-go between Durant and Westbrook punctuated by a huge Durant slam... Nice defensive rebound by Aldrich, who then gets a dish from Durant and draws a foul... Westbrook with a textbook bank shot that he gets to fall just before the end of the third quarter... Aldrich continuing to play hard and physical on both ends of the floor... Good hustle from Collison to wrestle away an offensive board... Good job of standing up straight to make a block by Collison... Good hedge off a screen by Perkins to stop a drive, then he blocks a shot to draw a Hawks shot clock violation... Harden goes to the bucket and hits a floater in the lane, plus the foul... Westbrook hits Durant on a perfect flare screen to the corner for a 3-pointer... Solid pressure in the backcourt from Harden to force a turnover... Then Ivey takes a charge to give the Thunder another chance.