"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 go
Many 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 scoring
Through five games, the Thunder’s top three scorers are second-year players Kevin Durant
(19.4), Jeff Green
(13.6) and rookie Russell Westbrook
"To be honest, I haven’t looked at the cumulative stats yet,” said Carlesimo.