The Hawks didn’t come here last year, owing to the abbreviated schedule. It wouldn’t have bothered me if they’d waited another year: Atlanta, despite the absence of Josh Smith, took an early lead, fell behind in the second quarter, and just kept on pushing, finishing off the Thunder 104-95 at the ‘Peake.
The major problem was the Thunder’s inability to control the rock. We’re talking twenty-one turnovers, handing the Hawks 31 points. (Atlanta hocked up the ball only ten times.) And offensively, it didn’t seem to matter whether it was the starters or the reserves on the floor: the Hawks’ bench got 47 points. Lou Williams had 19, 13 in the third quarter alone. Then again, Williams shot only 5-14.
Which was still better than Russell Westbrook, who struggled all night and wound up at 5-18, though he did manage nine assists. Kevin Durant, left in for 42 minutes, returned his usual double-double — 22 points, 12 rebounds — Kevin Martin, who scored 22 in the first half, finished with 28, which is pretty good until you consider that the entire bench production was 32. (Nick Collison got the other four.) The Thunder remains difficult to block — Al Horford (23 points, 12 boards) got the only Atlanta swat — but how much did the Hawks have to block when OKC was just giving the ball away?
A 1-2 opening is, as the phrase goes, not optimal. There’s nothing going on that can’t be fixed; but Tuesday the Raptors will be here, and Toronto hasn’t been an actual pushover for OKC in years.