The Atlanta Hawks turned in another valiant effort on the road Monday night but couldn't overcome a surge by Kevin Durant that helped lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 111-109 win.
What may surprise some people if they didn't watch the game was that even without Al Horford and Jeff Teague, Atlanta was in control of this game for much of the night thanks to near flawless execution. The Hawks made five of their first seven attempts from three-point range and quickly took a 32-26 lead after one.
Rookie Dennis Schröder sparked the team in the second scoring all 10 of his points in the quarter. Atlanta led by as many as 14 points in the second and took a 57-50 advantage into the intermission.
The third was more of the same for the Hawks who were unable to put the Thunder away but were able to keep them at arms distance. The Hawks may have actually ran away with this game if not for the superb play of Durant. Atlanta led 87-79 after three.
Through three quarters Atlanta was shooting 52 percent and was 11-20 from three-point range. Everytime Oklahoma City made a run the Hawks had an answer. Whether it was a big three, an offensive rebound or a key steal Atlanta was able to come up with it. However, they ran out of answers in the fourth.
The Thunder outscored the Hawks 32-22 over the final 12 minutes of the game. Atlanta's shooting plummeted to 39 percent and they were just 1-5 from three-point range.
Mike Scott's layup with 3:35 remaining would be Atlanta's last field goal until Paul Millsap tied the game back up with 22 seconds remaining. The Hawks had opportunities as they grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession which finally resulted in a missed three from the corner from Scott which was a great look. Those shots had gone down for most of the evening but it didn't fall when Atlanta needed it the most.
Durant was superb scoring 13 of his game-high 41 in the fourth. His pull up jumper with 25.5 remaining put the Thunder up 109-107. On that play, Durant delivered a two hand push to the chest of DeMarre Carroll to help gain separation to receive the inbounds pass. The action happened right in front of an official but no foul was called on the play.
I will let you judge for yourself: (Gif courtesy of user SanAntonioGiant)
Pretty clear from that angle.
The Hawks went right back to Millsap on the next possession who turned in another All-Star worthy performance of 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Millsap scored to tie the game and the Hawks were faced with trying to stop Durant one more time.
Durant catches the ball at the top of the key and the Hawks immediately send Mike Scott to double team him but Scott is coming from the left side. Durant puts it on the floor going right and eventually rises up over Carroll and Kyle Korver to knock down the game-winner. Scott gets into the play late but Durant was already into his shooting motion at that point.
- Shelvin Mack got a couple of shots blocked down the stretch but played a great overall game finishing with 15 points, seven assists and just one turnover.
- Dennis Schröder came into the game 1-11 from three-point range before knocking down two in the second quarter. Schröder hadn't hit a three since the season opener in Dallas.
- Mike Scott was huge again scoring 11 of 16 points in the fourth quarter. He was on the floor for all 12 minutes of the final period and also finished with six rebounds.
- Gustavo Ayon played 26 minutes and finished with six points and 10 rebounds. He burned the Thunder on a couple of occasions by slipping screens and getting easy looks at the rim. He is still prone to miss shots close but I thought this was as good a performance from him that we've seen since he returned from an ankle injury.