Rapid reaction: Oklahoma City falls 104-95 to Atlanta in rare home loss
By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Throughout the game, there was a general feeling that Oklahoma City would eventually pull away and win. They were the better and healthier team. And they were at home. But mid-way through the fourth quarter, Lou Williams, Atlanta’s key free agent pickup, scored 10 straight Hawks points, turning a tie game into a seven-point lead. Riding Williams’ momentum, the Hawks never relinquished that lead.
It was over when…
…Russell Westbrook attempted to make a hustle play, but committed one of basketball’s cardinal sins. He saved the ball under his basket, swinging it behind his back directly to Al Horford for an easy dunk. It put the Thunder down six with less than three minutes left and sucked the energy out of the arena.
Atlanta came in with no fear, and much of that can be attributed to the attitude of their talented and confident point guard. Jeff Teague didn’t back down early, shooting over the top and going right at the Thunder defense. Twice, Teague dunked right on OKC starters (Durant and Ibaka). And twice, he stared them down after the act, winking and talking trash. It set the tone.
Star of the game – Al Horford
Atlanta’s All-Star center is healthy and productive again. And on Sunday, he schooled OKC’s struggling frontline, dropping 23 points, grabbing 12 boards and controlling the paint for much of his productive 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins combined to snatch only eight defensive rebounds.
For an extended period, it looked like Kevin Durant was headed toward his first career triple-double. He would eventually fall short, but still finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while adding three steals and two blocks. Durant’s fingerprints were on nearly every play, showing up all over the court on both ends. His most impressive stat? Sunday’s 12 rebounds gave him 43 in three games (or 14.3 per contest).
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