The Hawks faced off against the Thunder at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night, managed to hold off a desperation push from the MVP candidate star of the Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (33 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists), and won the game 141-138.
De’Andre Hunter remained out tonight with right knee soreness, but the Hawks were otherwise healthy. On the other side of the ball, the Thunder had a hard-fought win against Boston last night, January 2nd, and had travel issues resulting in their arrival to Atlanta at 5 AM local time today.
The sluggishness showed for Thunder as the Hawks quickly got out to a 7-0 lead forcing an early timeout from Mark Daignault. Indeed, the Thunder didn’t manage to score until the 8:15 mark in the 1st quarter, in large part due to three turnovers in just under four minutes.
JJ runs 94 feet and CC follows with a flush pic.twitter.com/gt5nOsVEr0— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 4, 2024
Hawks internet stans were particularly excited to see the energy from Jalen Johnson early, in his fourth game back from injury. And the Hawks offense stayed hot through the rest of the quarter, spurred on by 11 quick points from Bogdan Bogdanovic, including three three-pointers. The hot start resulted in a 39-25 lead for the Hawks and any time a team puts up nearly 40 points in a quarter, there’s no doubt that the offense is humming.
The early goings of the second quarter were largely a back-and-forth affair with neither team doing too much. The Thunder could have cut it to single digits at various points but missed those critical three pointers. Once again, Jalen Johnson got this writer out of his seat with an absolutely filthy move in the open court.
This sparked a huge run from the Hawks, including alley oops, three pointers, and more, while their lead ballooned to 60-40 at the 5:28 mark. The Hawks answered every momentum push from the Thunder with athleticism and shooting, particularly from JJ & Trae. This meant the Hawks were able to take a 17-point lead into the half, with the exclamation point coming from (who else?) Jalen Johnson with the how-do-you-do to Chet Holmgren.
The Hawks bent slightly to start the 3rd quarter with the Thunder cutting that 17-point lead to only 11 points after only two minutes and ten seconds. The Thunder managed to cut the lead to single digits halfway through the third on a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander layup making it 89-80. The game continued to see-saw from there.
What a pass from Trae to Garrison! pic.twitter.com/WeNR8Mj1Xv— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 4, 2024
Both offenses hummed, and neither defense did much stopping. But the back-and-forth nature favored the Hawks through most of the third quarter, as they took a 116-100 lead into the final stage of the game. Including this three-pointer from Bogi to give him 23 points.
The story of the fourth quarter came down to weathering the runs from the Thunder. Oklahoma City managed to cut the deficit to three points with under ten seconds left in the fourth after nine consecutive points from ‘SGA’. A missed isolation layup and a missed Bogdanovic three-pointer allowed the Thunder to have a wide-open three-pointer from Isaiah Joe in the corner, which he missed wide right. Ultimately, the Thunder went on an 18-6 run in the final three minutes and 45 seconds of the game, but the Hawks luckily held on to take the win.
Jalen Johnson (28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists), Trae Young (24 points and 11 assists), and Bogdan Bodganovic (23 points and four assists) led the way for Atlanta, who relied on explosive offense for the majority of the game to hold the young Thunder at bay.