When you’ve had a 17-point lead dwindle to four, who you gonna call? Yep. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook appointed themselves Hawksbusters tonight in Hotlanta, with the Russmeister controlling the first half (21 of his 27 points) and Kid Delicious taking care of the second (28 in those 24 minutes, finishing with a season-high 41). Which is not to say there weren’t some dry spells here and there; if there hadn’t been, Atlanta wouldn’t have mounted a comeback. But the Not-Too-Dirty Birds couldn’t pull within a single possession, and OKC avenged a home loss to the Hawks to the tune of 100-92, the Thunder’s 12th straight win.
Westbrook served up 11 assists for the other end of a double-double; Durant grabbed 13 rebounds, ditto. With 68 percent of the scoring accounted for, the rest of the team played defense. Serge Ibaka had an off-night offensively 2-9, four points but he reeled in 14 boards. Kendrick Perkins (two points) got seven; Thabo Sefolosha (nine points) also got seven. The bench didn’t do a whole lot, but then they weren’t out there very long.
Josh Smith was very Josh Smith-y tonight, playing all but six minutes and bagging 17 points and 12 rebounds. About the only thing he couldn’t do was make free throws (0-3). Jeff Teague, perhaps unexpectedly, had the team-high 19 points; Lou Williams, who started out cold, warmed up appreciably as time went on, winding up with 13 to lead the reserves. The Hawks’ strength is defense, and most of the time you’d figure that 44 rebounds, 11 steals and six blocks would do the trick until you look at OKC’s 52-8-12. If they’d shot better than 38 percent, they might have pulled this one off.
But the Thunder have already left the building and the season series behind. Tomorrow night, the inconsistent but plucky Timberwolves in frigid Minnesota. (Low tomorrow night in Minneapolis: 6°F. Tonight’s snow, we can safely assume, isn’t going to melt much.) After that, we await jolly Saint Nick and surly King James.