Atlanta Hawks

Hawks Top Thunder 110-108, Pull to 14-14

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 110-108, moving to 14-14 on the season. This was a particularly thrilling game, coming down to the final possession (and final tenths of a second).

Atlanta led after the first quarter, 22-16, holding the Thunder to under 20 points in an impressive defensive performance. This margin didn’t hold, though, as Russell Westbrook and the Thunder exploded in the second quarter to take the lead by a score of 53-48 at the half.

Predictably, Westbrook led the scoring charge in the first half, with 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Shooting over 50%, he played like the superstar Oklahoma City is used to. Predictably, the Thunder out-rebounded the Hawks (27 to 15), taking advantage of Dwight Howard’s absence to gain an advantage on the glass.

Paul Millsap and Dennis Schröder played very well in Howard’s absence early on. Millsap scored 16 points on 6-7 shooting, while Schröder had 18 points (6-8 shooting), four assists, and two rebounds. Millsap started the game at center, as Mike Budenholzer elected to go with a small lineup to start the evening.

Atlanta and Oklahoma City went back and forth in the third quarter, but a key three-pointer from Mike Scott helped give the Hawks a 81-78 entering the final period. The Hawks actually out-rebounded the Thunder in the third quarter, 12-9. Most of all though, the team’s 60% shooting mark in the quarter helped Atlanta take the lead.

The game continued to be close as time wound down, and with 3:24 remaining Oklahoma City led, 104-100. The teams traded baskets for several possessions after that, but a key Schröder basket gave Atlanta a 108-106 lead with 49 seconds left. Westbrook (perhaps predictably at this point) made an off-balance jumper to tie the game at 108, prompting Atlanta to call a timeout with 32 seconds remaining.

Millsap scored with 11 seconds left to take the score to 110-108. Without calling a timeout, Westbrook barreled down the court, only to have his shot blocked out of bounds with 2.9 seconds left. Steven Adams dunked off another missed shot, but, crucially, time expired before the ball left his hands to give the Hawks the win.

Westbrook was the best player on the court tonight, but Millsap and Schröder were easily the next two. It’s encouraging to see Schröder play this well after a slow start, and the team can only benefit if he continues to compete at this level. Next up, the Hawks will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Philips Arena on Wednesday.

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