I am indebted to radio guy Matt Pinto for that phrase, uttered about halfway through the fourth quarter while a 14-point Thunder lead had shrunk to a mere three. Consistent inconsistency has bedeviled this club most of the year, and while Oklahoma City handled the Hawks beautifully in the 28-15 third quarter, Atlanta was able to upend the OKC applecart pretty quickly. Mike Budenholzer had already pulled one switcheroo in the starting lineup, switching scorer Kyle Korver to coming off the bench and having the more defense-minded Thabo Sefolosha start at the three. And Thabo lived up to his billing, scoring only six points but forcing six turnovers. Perhaps a greater boon to the Hawks was the return of Paul Millsap, who’d missed three games due to a hip issue. And with 10.8 seconds left and the Hawks down three, Victor Oladipo took a spill and lost the subsequent jump ball to, yes, Sefolosha. Time out was called, a Hawk trey came down empty, and it was OKC 102, Atlanta 99, the Thunder’s sixth consecutive win.
Millsap was good for 24 points; Korver led the Atlanta bench with 15. One thing the Hawks did well was draw fouls, which they duly converted to free throws; they made 24 of 32 from the stripe. (The Thunder continue to stumble from the foul line, hitting only 18 of 28.) And neither side could break 32 percent from three-point land, the Hawks going 7-22 and the Thunder 10-31.) But OKC did have the rebounding under control, 43-36, and yes, there was yet another Russell Westbrook triple-double: 32-13-12, his sixth in a row. Steven Adams, apparently undeterred by his ankle issue against the Pelicans last night, rose for a double-double: 12 points, 10 boards. And the return of Anthony Morrow to good form continues to help: tonight he was 5-8 (4-6 on the long ball) for 15 points.
After this, the Thunder are off until Friday, when the Rockets show up at the ‘Peake; the Celtics will be in town Sunday, after which it’s back out West once more.