The Hawks' Dennis Schroder scored 18 Tuesday night. (Getty Images file photo)
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ten observations: Thunder 119, Hawks 107

  1. This was, under the circumstances, a good effort by the Hawks (offensively, at least). They are injury-depleted and are playing out the string but had a tie game with five minutes to go against the Thunder, who are part of a tight playoff race in the West. The Thunder responded with a 16-0 run paced by star point guard Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant. Westbrook posted his 100th career triple-double with 32 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds. Grant scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. Said Hawks guard Dennis Schroder: “Russell Westbrook took over. He’s a great player. And they started knocking down shots. You’ve got to give them credit.”
  2. The Hawks engaged the Thunder in a fast-paced shootout, which wasn’t a terrible thing. Entering the game, the Thunder ranked 12th in offensive efficiency, 19th in pace and tied for 17th in points scored per possession in transition (they tend to commit a lot of turnovers). The free-flowing game worked for the Hawks in the first half but the Thunder erupted for 36 points on 25 shots in the third quarter. Carmelo Anthony got hot shooting threes and Westbrook  dominated attacking the rim. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer on the plan vs. Westbrook: “We really wanted to show him a crowd, show him a lot of bodies. At times I thought we did a good job of it, we were in the right spots and the right places. When Carmelo started hitting those threes, that hurts. Then you feel a little bit hesitant to show a crowd, and Westbrook’s starting to get a little more penetration,  getting more on the rim, getting to the free-throw line.”
  3.  Anthony looked washed up at both ends during the first  half. He went off for 12 points in five minutes to open the third quarter. Anthony made four consecutive three-pointers, skipping down the floor and pointing at his head after each one. That burst was part of a 21-5 run that turned Oklahoma City’s 66-54 halftime deficit into a 75-71 lead. 
  4. Hawks rookie John Collins was a dunk machine early — three of his first four baskets were dunks, including a putback flush over Westbrook in transition. Collins had another dunk later in the half and finished the game with 10 points on 10 shots. Quipped Collins: “I’m a professional dunker.” Thunder center Dakari Johnson, the lineup replacement for Steven Adams (hip), is too lumbering to keep up with Collins’ quick-jumping activity around the basket. Adams played the first seven minutes and then went to the bench for good.
  5. Collins was among the Hawks players who took advantage of the absence of Adams, who is an excellent defender and rebounder. The Hawks scored 40 points in the paint (30 of 66 points in the first half) and earned 24  free-throw attempts (20 makes).
  6. Taurean Prince followed his career-high 38 points against the Bulls with 25 points on 20 shots. He couldn’t find much space to make plays against OKC’s defense but did have eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Paul George got the best of Prince early but Prince made it harder on George from there. George didn’t play in the fourth quarter after he took a hard fall on his hip in the third.
  7. Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor attacked the basket with zeal and earned six free-throw attempts (six makes). Schroder earned eight free throws (five makes).
  8. Hawks rookie Tyler Dorsey got the start in place of Kent Bazemore. Dorsey missed his first two three-point tries, both challenged, and then quickly earned his second personal foul. He finished 1-for-5 on three-pointers to drop to 8-for-37 over his past eight games.  
  9.  Hawks rookie Tyler Cavanaugh saw his first NBA action since Jan. 17. Cavanaugh had three rebounds in 14 minutes, set some good screens and scrapped for loose balls. Budenholzer: “I love the I.Q., the toughness. He’s going after every loose ball. He has great feel. The way we play, he fits us really well.” 
  10. After signing a 10-day contract Tuesday morning, Hawks wing Damion Lee was effective in his NBA debut. He scored 13 points (eight shots) in 17 minutes with four rebounds and two assists. Lee made his first three-point attempt. He airballed his second try, which Anthony rebounded, but stole Anthony’s pass and turned it into a shooting foul (he made both free throws). Said Lee:  “It was fun. Everybody on the team throughout the whole day was telling me to go out and have fun and continue to do what got me here. When I was sitting on the bench guys were telling me when I’m open, shoot it, stay spaced out and be confident and just go out there and hoop.”

About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.