The Atlanta Hawks were back at it Friday night when they ventured to Oklahoma City to face off against the star-studded Thunder. The Hawks have been trying to hold things together of late but suffered a blow when Dennis Schroder was ruled out of the matchup in pregame.
Atlanta’s inactives for Friday’s game again included Dewayne Dedmon who has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his left tibia and could be out possibly another week. Schroder was a game time decision who did not play after warming up before the game.
The Hawks were on fire from three-point land right out of the gate with Marco Belinelli, Taurean Prince, and Ersan Ilyasova contributing in that department early. With the Hawks not having Dennis Schroder available, Kent Bazemore drew his first career NBA start at point guard and did well. The Thunder got most of their offense from their big three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook and both teams played to a tie at the end of the first quarter at 28 all.
In the second quarter, the Hawks gave a poor defensive effort, giving up back-to-back three pointers to Raymond Felton of all people. The onslaught continued as Russell Westbrook began to pick the Hawks apart running the Thunder offense to perfection. The Hawks once again turned to Marco Belinelli who obliged with some tough shots to keep the Hawks within shouting distance. Nevertheless, Atlanta had no answers on defense and took a 14-point deficit into the half at 64-50.
The third quarter was a great example of the fight the Hawks have shown this season as Atlanta really clamped down on defense and got their offense back on track early on. The Hawks found some great offense in Marco Belinelli yet again in the third quarter as he ran the offense and at one point made or assisted on 9 straight points.
John Collins came off the bench late in the quarter with great energy pulling down some crucial rebounds and playing the pick-and-roll defense to perfection. The Hawks made back much of the ground lost in the second quarter by cutting the deficit all the way down to just one point going into the fourth down 82-81.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks made their charge getting the lead back off two spectacular defensive possessions by Kent Bazemore. OKC would continue to fight back with their three-headed monster and take the lead back late. The Hawks were terribly out-rebounded by the Thunder on the offensive glass and the second opportunities are what broke the Hawks back.
The road team gave their best effort late as Belinelli poured in a tremendous night with 27 points but could not finish the comeback as they took the loss in Oklahoma on a last second three pointer by last season’s MVP Russell Westbrook. The Hawks also got a career high 22 points from Malcolm Delaney on a night where they needed every point.
The Hawks will play their final game prior to Christmas tomorrow when they travel to Texas to face off with Dallas. Stay tuned.