The Atlanta Hawks got out to a slow start offensively, going into halftime down 14. An improved performance from Jeff Teague, Lou Williams and Anthony Tolliver were not enough to snatch victory in the second half and the Hawks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-92.
Kevin Durant looked like an MVP, draining step back three pointers on every defender that was thrown at him. DeShawn Stevenson started out across from him, and all of Josh Smith, Anthony Tolliver and Kyle Korver had their shot to slow him down in the second half, but none could. Durant was 10-16 for 28 points and also pulled in 10 rebounds in the second half alone. He proved he certainly was a matchup nightmare, finishing with 41 points and 13 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook had the hot hand in the first half, however, scoring 21 points on 13 shots. Overall, Westbrook and Durant combined for 68 points by themselves.
Larry Drew had to tinker with the rotation while Devin Harris nursed a sore left foot. John Jenkins saw time in the second quarter as Anthony Tolliver did in the second half. Tolliver got to the bucket a few times for free throws and ended up with 6 points. Lou Williams could not find his game through the first three quarters, with goose eggs in all categories except for a two point bucket in seven tries in the third. He did have 11 points including 3 three pointers and an assist in the fourth to make a game out of it but it was too little too late.
The slow start offensively has been a continuation of a disappointing trend, considering the talent the team possesses. The Hawks shot 37.4% in the first half while giving up 50% shooting to the opposition and put themselves in a hole they could not climb out of. The bench of Anthony Morrow, Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson and John Jenkins combined for 3-15 shooting in that half, compared to the Thunder’s 7-12 from Kevin Martin, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb and Eric Maynor, which only aided to the lead the Thunder held for almost the entire game.
Hawks fans should be encouraged to see an aggressive Jeff Teague, who got to the rack numerous times for 19 points on just 13 shots. Tolliver was certainly a boost in the second half as were Kyle Korver’s 5 boards, 4 steals and 3 blocks. However, the Hawks cannot lose the rebounding margin like they did tonight, 52-44, and must have a more consistant offensive performance from both units, starters and bench members, if they want to be competitive with top shelf teams.
Next game is Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers in Well Fargo Arena.