Hawks power forward John Collins was perfect in his shooting game up until about halfway through the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s matchup against the Thunder. He went 11 for 11, knocking down every shot he took.
He finished the night going 12 of 14. He missed his first layup with 7:45 left in the game, rebounded, missed the tip layup and rebounded again before tipping the ball in. Collins finished with 26 points, leading the Hawks (14-30) in scoring in a 142-126 win.
“Yeah I really like this win because we were really, really shorthanded on top of that,” Collins said. “And I think everybody did a good job of stepping up and playing their role and doing it well. And it got us a win against a really good team tonight.”
Coach Lloyd Pierce said the Thunder were switching down on defense, especially when the play involved Collins. The Hawks took advantage. Collins said the Hawks were able to understand the defense’s emphasis on switching and worked to play to their strengths in the pick and roll.
Collins remembered the Thunder’s emphasis from the previous matchup on Nov. 30, and also from the scouting reports. The Thunder’s defense is one of the team’s strong suits, but the Hawks realized their ability to use their size to take advantage of the switches when they occurred.
Pierce acknowledged the challenges with the Thunder’s defense is their length and how active they are with their hands on defense. Oklahoma City leads the league in steals, and with the top two leaders in steals per game with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Pierce said it adds to the challenge of facing their defense.
“But we like the matchup if we can get the ball to John [Collins] in the paint,” Pierce said. “We just kept putting him in it and our guys did a good job of finding him around the rim.”
Collins found his way around the defense and into the paint to score, and added crucial points throughout the game.
He recorded four dunks, with two consecutive dunks during the second quarter. He's been dunking the ball for as long as he can remember, he said, and the dunks act as a piece of momentum for him and for the team, providing a spark of energy. He understands part of his role is to create that spark and play off the energy the crowd to get his teammates rolling on the court.
“John [Collins] is just a special guy once he gets around the basket,” Pierce said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.