Kevin Durant scores 33, Thunder tops Hawks on New Year's Eve

The Thunder franchise is at its best record through December since 2004 when it was still in Seattle.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: December 31, 2010 at 10:45 pm •  Published: December 31, 2010
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Kevin Durant's New Year's resolution for his Oklahoma City Thunder is a simple one.

“One thing I want us to do is to make winning basketball plays,” Durant said.

The Thunder can look back on 2010 as the year in which it learned how.

Oklahoma City closed the book on the first portion of the 2010-11 season with a 103-94 win over Atlanta on Friday night inside Oklahoma City Arena. The victory bumped the Thunder to 23-11, marking the franchise's best record through December since 2004 when the team was in Seattle.

Dating back to Jan. 1, 2010, the Thunder is 55-29.

On Dec. 31, 2008, the Thunder defeated Golden State to move to 4-29.

“This is a decent place for us to be right now,” Durant said. “We could be a lot better. There are some games we gave away early on. But it's over with. It's a new year now.”

Before ringing in the New Year, the Thunder proved it can stand tall against an Eastern Conference heavyweight and match the Hawks' physicality. The Hawks never led after the Thunder took a 7-6 lead with 9:15 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Thunder controlled the game by out-rebounding Atlanta, 42-36, and never allowing the Hawks to set the tone with its bruising frontcourt tandem of Al Horford and Josh Smith.

“They rebound and defend as well as anybody we will play this year,” Brooks said. “I thought we did a good job of matching their strength of being as physical as they were.”

After scoring a season-low 12 fourth-quarter points Monday against Dallas, the Thunder also showed improvement in the final period. OKC held Atlanta to 15 points and turned a four-point lead to start the fourth into an 11-point margin when it hampered the Hawks into 1-for-10 shooting to start the quarter.

Hawks leading scorer Joe Johnson struggled with his shot all night, missing 10 of his first 13 attempts before finishing with 16 points on 6-for-20 shooting. Johnson did finish with a game-high 11 assists, but he went 0-for-6 from behind the 3-point line and misfired on four of his five shots in the fourth quarter.

Friday's box score
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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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