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Hawks begin road trip with 118-109 loss in Oklahoma City

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had an odd stretch this week, losing in memorable fashion to the Cleveland Cavaliers but following that disappointment with a dominant win over the Boston Celtics just 24 hours later. After a day for rest and travel on Thursday, the Hawks returned to the floor on Friday evening in Oklahoma City, and Atlanta struggled to generate stops in a 118-109 loss.

The start was fairly positive for the Hawks, with Clint Capela scoring the first six points and Trae Young knocking down an early three-pointer to give Atlanta a 9-3 lead.

The Hawks led by as many as nine points in the opening quarter, taking advantage of a porous Oklahoma City defense on the interior. John Collins was the biggest positive for the visitors, scoring 12 points in the first nine minutes to buoy the Hawks.

Still, Atlanta’s defense let up a bit, allowing the Thunder to shoot 54 percent in the first quarter, and Oklahoma City cut the margin down to 33-31. That was a microcosm of what was to come in the second period but, before the downturn arrived, Kevin Huerter did produce quite a highlight dunk.

With that aside, Oklahoma City used a 16-5 overall run to take a 35-33 lead and, while the Hawks stabilized, the Thunder had another push to come. Against Atlanta’s starting group, Oklahoma City put together a 12-2 overall run to take an eight-point lead, and the Hawks were generally atrocious on the defensive end in the second quarter.

In fact, the Thunder finished the first half by shooting 20-of-26 on two-point attempts and, considering Oklahoma City entered the night with the league’s worst offense, the defensive effort was not inspiring. Still, Atlanta was in position to bounce back with a workable halftime deficit.

At the outset of the second half, the Hawks had a bit more spring in their step, cutting the margin to three in short order. In fact, Atlanta had a three-point attempt in the air that would have tied in the game with approximately eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Hawks would get.

The Thunder rattled off an 11-3 run to push their lead back up to 11 points and, at one point late in the third, the Hawks trailed by 17 points. Defensively, it was a mess, and the offense stalled almost entirely with the second unit on the floor.

There was some optimism at times in the closing period, including a nice stretch by Skylar Mays that helped the Hawks cut the lead down to 100-92.

Later, the Hawks climbed within 109-103 but, after allowing a three-pointer to the Thunder, Atlanta failed to score and, in short order, the game got out of hand. Ultimately, Oklahoma City prevailed by a nine-point margin, and it was a disappointing result for Atlanta.

Collins led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks, with Capela adding 17 points and 21 rebounds. It was a less than optimal night from Young, who struggled to 7-of-21 shooting and did not attempt a free throw. Huerter contributed 15 points in support.

On the heels of this defeat, the Hawks will continue their road trip with a visit to Miami for games against the Heat on both Sunday and Tuesday.

Stay tuned.