John Collins was almost perfect.
The Hawks power forward made his first 11 shots on his way to 26 points as the Hawks defeated the Thunder 142-126 Tuesday night at State Farm Arena. The Hawks had seven double-digit scorers, including all five starters, for one of their best wins of the season.
The Hawks are 8-7 over their last 15 games. Head coach Lloyd Pierce compared the victory to the win in Philadelphia last Friday.
“I thought the win at Philly was special,” Pierce said. “Just putting together a 48-minute effort, a complete game, a lot of guys stepping up and contributing. I thought tonight was even better. … We were great in the first quarter. We were disciplined. We were locked in. We executed offensive whatever we wanted. That was a complete effort. That was winning basketball.”
The Hawks went on a 24-8 fourth quarter run to take a 126-112 lead 4:17 to play. Omari Spellman (7), Trae Young (5) and Collins (5) accounted for 17 of the points during the decisive run. It was part of a 45-point fourth quarter.
The Hawks (14-30) stopped a three-game losing streak to the Thunder. Young finished with 22 points and 11 assists. The Hawks also got 24 points and 11 rebounds from Alex Len. Kevin Huerter (17), DeAndre Bembry (16), Vince Carter (11) and Spellman (10) were the other double-digit scorers.
Collins finished 12 of 14 from the field. He is averaging 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in the past six games. He leads all members of his draft class in double-doubles (17) and rebounds per game (10.4) and is second in points per game (19.1).
Huerter had five 3-pointers, the fourth time he has at least that many in a game this season.
The Thunder (26-17) were led by Russell Westbrook with a game-high 31 points and 11 assists. Paul George added 24 points and former Hawk Dennis Schroder had 21 points.
The Hawks took advantage of the Thunder’s game plan to switch on pick-and-rolls. That enabled the Hawks to take advantage of mismatches. The Hawks finished with a 62.2 percent shooting percentage and 68 points in the paint.
“They switch a lot so the emphasis was to get the ball down low and capitalize on those easy switches,” Collins said. “Play to our strength in the pick and roll.”
The Hawks took a 70-59 lead into intermission that included a 17-8 run late in the second quarter as they led by as many as 15 points. Collins and Huerter each had 14 first-half points. Collins had four dunks, including three on alley-oop passes. Huerter was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the half.
The Thunder roared back with a 41-point third quarter to take a 100-97 lead into the fourth quarter. The Thunder erased their deficit with a 16-3 run, capped by a Schroder 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the period. Schroder scored the Thunder’s last 11 points, of his 14, in the quarter and Westbrook added 12 points.
“We got too comfortable late in that third quarter and got them back into it,” Young said. “It’s a part of building and growing. Learning when you’ve got a big lead not to get comfortable and continue to push and get buckets.”
The Hawks started all three rookies –Young, Huerter and Spellman – for the second straight game and third time this season. The Hawks were missing backup point guard Jeremy Lin, who was out with flu-like symptoms. The absence meant the Hawks played Daniel Hamilton and Jaylen Adams.
The Hawks acknowledged the return of Schroder with a short tribute video during a first-quarter timeout. Schroder stepped on the court and waved to the crowd, which gave polite applause. Schroder spent his first five seasons with the Hawks before the point guard was traded to the Thunder last summer.
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