Time to host the hot HawksThe Atlanta Hawks come to the Ford Center tonight as one of only three remaining undefeated teams. Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers are the other two. "Atlanta’s a tough team. They’re extremely athletic,” said Desmond Mason. "They have a great player in Joe Johnson and a lot of the other (talented) guys. They’re playing well right now. We have to look at how we played in the second half (against Utah). That’s how we have to play basketball to win. If we can take that type of effort home, we’re going to be OK against Atlanta.” The Hawks have held opponents to 86 points per game this season, second best in the league. Johnson is eighth in the league in scoring with a 25.3-point average.
Five down, 77 to goMany NBA coaches like to break down their schedules in five-game intervals. After the Thunder’s first five games, coach P.J. Carlesimo used the phrase "a work in progress” to evaluate his team. "Improving? Yeah,” Carlesimo said. "Very encouraging. The defense is significantly better than it was. We have a long ways to go offensively and a long ways to go in terms of identifying the people who can play consistently for us night to night.”
Young guns do the scoringThrough five games, the Thunder’s top three scorers are second-year players Kevin Durant (19.4), Jeff Green (13.6) and rookie Russell Westbrook (10.4). "To be honest, I haven’t looked at the cumulative stats yet,” said Carlesimo. "I’ve looked at field-goal percentages and turnovers, a couple of things like that. But I haven’t even looked at who’s scoring or who’s getting what. We just have not settled in to any kind of predictable form yet.”
Smith jams thumbJoe Smith injured his left thumb in the fourth quarter Friday against Utah. Team officials are listing Smith as day-to-day with a jammed thumb. "It’s not too bad,” Smith said. "It happened when I was going for a loose ball. (It’s a little sensitive) right now because it’s a little sore. But I don’t think it’s too bad. It will be all right.”
Watson wants bigs involvedDespite scoring a season-high 13 points Friday in his most aggressive offensive game of the season, point guard Earl Watson said he needs to get the Thunder’s post players involved more. "Until they’re involved and until they’re rolling, we will never be the team that we want to be,” Watson said. "It can’t be perimeter-dominant scoring. That’s unbalanced scoring. That’s not good for success.” BY DARNELL MAYBERRY