This did not begin well. The Thunder jumped off to a 2-0 lead on a Kendrick Perkins turnaround fadeaway. The Hawks responded with a Kyle Korver trey, and from that point continued to knock down three-pointers seemingly with impunity. Atlanta was up seven at the half, eight after three; the Thunder finally tied it up at 107-all with 2:11 left, and took the lead with 25 seconds left on a jumper by (who else?) Kevin Durant. It took only three seconds for the Hawks to come back with a Paul Millsap layup; Durant pulled up with 1.5 left to make it 111-109 Thunder, and Atlanta’s last try ended up out of bounds.
Let us not minimize this Hawk effort. Mike Budenholzer played only nine men, and seven of them made double figures. (Gustavo Ayon didn’t score ten, but he got ten rebounds and the highest plus/minus on the floor.) It was Millsap who got team-high honors, with 23. Atlanta owned the boards, 40-33. And the Hawks connected on 12 of 25 treys though the box score won’t tell you that at one point in the second quarter they had seven of nine.
Still, nobody closes out a game like Kevin Durant. KD wound up with 41 points on 15-25 shooting and five of seven three-pointers. (When it was all over, OKC actually had one more long-ball make than the Hawks.) Jeremy Lamb went 5-8 to lead the bench with 14; Reggie Jackson knocked down 18, and Serge Ibaka, just for funsies, blocked six shots, four more than all nine Hawks.
It’s not going to get any easier, though. The Heat await in Miami Wednesday night, and either KD or LeBron, or both, will take it personally.