OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Hawks snapped a two-game losing skid by holding on to down the Thunder 137-132 Wednesday night.
Here are five observations:
1. The Hawks came out firing in the fourth quarter to try to finish off the Thunder. They continued their 25-7 run, which began in the final four minutes of the third quarter, and took a 119-104 lead with 9:31 left in the game.
Their offensive push early in the final quarter forced the Thunder to take a timeout to regroup. Out of it, the Thunder fired off nine straight points that cut the Hawks’ lead to 119-113 and take the momentum. It put pressure on the Hawks’ defense until Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned from Oklahoma City’s bench.
The Hawks stayed afloat for a little while longer but turnovers from Trae Young and Dejounte Murray in the final 1:23 allowed the Thunder to pull within 133-132 with 14.5 left.
But the Hawks held on with Murray shutting down Gilgeous-Alexander on his layup attempt in the final three seconds. On top of that, Murray and John Collins knocked down free throws to give the Hawks some breathing room.
“We’re making big plays,” Collins said. “Obviously, DJ, Trae, making big plays down the stretch, myself coming in clutch. Just finding a way to win.”
2. The Hawks have shot over 50% in five of their previous six games and they found that heat from the floor again on Wednesday. One of the reasons for that was balanced scoring but also a strong shooting night from Young.
The 24-year-old guard has had a few off nights in his recent outings but he found a rhythm in the second quarter that he carried into the third to help the Hawks create separation.
Young made 10 of his 20 overall shots from the floor and knocked down three of six shots from distance, after going 0-of-9 in the previous two games.
While Young doesn’t need a strong shooting night to impact his dishes, the guard doled out 11 assists to go with his 33 points. He has had 10 or more assists in each of the last three games. Young joins Pistons legend Isiah Thomas for the second-most 20-points, 10-assists games by a player before turning 25 with 113, according to ESPN. Only Oscar Robertson leads them with 124.
3. With the Thunder getting out to a quick start early, the Hawks had plenty of power from their front court to keep things close. The Hawks outrebounded the Thunder 22-18 in the first half with Collins and Clint Capela crashing the boards on both ends.
But with Collins aggressively attacking the glass on the offensive side, with four offensive rebounds, he helped the Hawks to 18 second-chance points.
Collins had 19 points, going 3-of-3 on his second-chance attempts and 7-of-12 overall. It follows up his most recent five games where he has made nearly 60% of his overall attempts and 44% of his 3-point attempts.
The 25-year-old forward has worked this season to carve a place for himself within the mix of things, especially with Murray and Capela being primary targets in the offense.
Both Collins and Capela ended the night with 10 rebounds apiece. Sophomore forward Jalen Johnson led the second unit with eight rebounds, while Onyeka Okongwu pulled down five after missing Monday’s game against the Bulls.
4. Though the Hawks saw the return of Okongwu, they still had to face the Thunder without their top perimeter defender. For the second game in a row, the Hawks squared off against a hot-shooting team without De’Andre Hunter (out due to acute asthma symptoms).
The Thunder had four of their top shooters, who all shoot 37% or better from distance, available in the rotation. They made the Hawks pay for it in the first half when they made 11 of their 20 3-point attempts (55%).
The Hawks tightened up defensively and the Thunder cooled off in the second half. The Hawks held the Thunder to 4-of-14 shooting from distance.
“We had some double teams that happened in the second half and we did a good job of double teaming, and scrambling and rotating out of the double teams to get to their shooters,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said.
5. While the Thunder cooled, the Hawks hit some timely shots from long distance which allowed them to pull ahead in the second half. The Hawks went 6-of-12 from 3 when they returned from the locker room, with Bogdan Bogdanovic hitting two of them.
The Serbian sharpshooter had gone 9-of-29 from 3-point distance over his previous four games but knocked down four of seven on Wednesday.
He’s played just 24 games this season after missing the first 25 recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Hawks 137, Thunder 132
Stat to know
24 - Despite a good first half where they only had six turnovers, the Hawks ended the night with 17, leading to 24 Thunder points. The Hawks are 3-6 when they give up 20 or more points off of turnovers.
“That means I’m doing something right, if I’m in the category with him, a legend, a Hall of Famer, means I’m doing something right. So I’ve just got to keep going, not pay attention to it and just let the winning take care of everything else.” - Trae Young on tying Isiah Thomas for number of 20-points, 10-assists games before the age of 25.
The Hawks return to State Farm Arena to face the Clippers Saturday night.
About the Author