Thunder at Atlanta Hawks Game Recap – Dec. 5, 2016

ATLANTA – Zero-for-five shooting from the floor with three turnovers wasn’t exactly the offensive start the Thunder hoped to zoom out to on the second night of a home-road back-to-back. No matter, because the team’s defense did the work to stay in the game until a third quarter onslaught gave Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club enough cushion to hold onto victory.

It took a timely three-pointer from Victor Oladipo, a ridiculous play where Russell Westbrook bounced the ball off of Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha before draining a 19-foot jumper, a Westbrook and-one fadeaway jumper in the corner and then a Westbrook coast-to-coast layup, but the Thunder managed to score enough points down the stretch to force the Hawks into a desperation situation.

Locked in coming out of a timeout, Oladipo took up all of Tim Hardaway Jr.’s airspace to force the desperation heave from the Hawks’ guard to fall short. The ball dropped directly into Westbrook’s waiting arms, sealing a hard-fought 102-99 win, the Thunder’s sixth-straight victory.

“We did a nice job coming out of the timeout with 10 seconds to go, defending the play to take it away,” Donovan described. “It was for a catch-and-shoot and Victor did a good job. We got out there and at that point in time when Hardaway shoots it, you’re at the mercy of the ball.”

The board was the 13th of the night for Westbrook, who extended his streak of triple-doubles to six consecutive, the most since Michael Jordan in 1989. Westbrook scored just one point in the first quarter and only five in the first half, but exploded for 27 points in the second half for a 32-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist evening.

Westbrook and his team wouldn’t have gotten to the second half with a chance, however, without Steven Adams rolling to the rim for so many layups in the early going or the sharpshooting of Anthony Morrow (four three-pointers).

“We’re a team. These guys are all together and are trying to fulfill their role,” Donovan said. “They’re all trying to do their jobs. They’re all trying to play together, make each other better and help each other.”

The part of the game that was perhaps the most dangerous for the Thunder, however, was towards the end of the first quarter. Donovan’s group fell behind 18-12, but the Thunder ran some offense through Jerami Grant and Enes Kanter, making an 11-3 push to regain control of the game.

On the night, five different Thunder players scored in double figures, and the team managed to overcome 19 turnovers by racking up 26 assists and out-rebounding Atlanta by seven.

Watch: Thunder at Hawks Highlights

Third Quarter Clamp Down

The Hawks may have entered the locker room at halftime with a bunch of momentum from a 10-1 run to close out the second quarter, but the Thunder clearly emerged the hungrier, more precise team to start the third quarter. Donovan’s group used a 23-9 burst to build a 15-point lead, and in the quarter the Thunder shot 10-for-19 (52.6 percent), including 4-for-10 from three while holding the Hawks to 27.3 percent shooting (1-for-6 from three).

“Defensively, we buckled down and made it a physical game,” Westbrook said. “We made it tough for those guys to score the basketball and it was good for us.”

“We tried to switch certain actions that we got hurt by,” Donovan said, noting the adjustments his staff made at halftime. “The switching helped maybe take away a lot of the screening and staggers and their movement. It allowed us to have to guard them one-on-one.”

The defensive lock down coincided with a furious flurry of scoring from Westbrook, who shook off a 1-for-8 start to the game to hit 5-of-6 shots after that in the third quarter. In fact, Westbrook outscored Atlanta by himself by racking up 16 points when the Thunder outscored Atlanta 28-15 in the third quarter.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

By the Numbers

6 – Consecutive wins for the Thunder, coinciding with Russell Westbrook’s streak of six straight triple-doubles

10 – Rebounds for Steven Adams, six of which came on the offensive end. Adams also added 12 points

13-for-24 – Shooting numbers for the Thunder’s reserves, good for 54.2 percent from the field

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Last Word

“We stayed locked in on both ends of the floor. Anytime we had lulls on offense or defense we just trusted the process and stuck with it. Guys are doing a great job of buying into what we need to do on both ends of the floor to sustain good play. We just have to continue to do it. We can’t get complacent.” – guard Anthony Morrow