Thunder hold off Hawks to win 11th time in last 12 games
Kevin Durant scored 30 points. As usual, there was so much more to his performance.
Dominating at both ends of the court, Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder to their 11th win in 12 games, holding off the Atlanta Hawks 101-92 Tuesday night.
Shelvin Mack scored a career-high 17 points off the bench to lead an Atlanta comeback that had the sparse crowd roaring.
The Thunder closed it out at the end,
"They revved up their intensity on the defensive end, their physicality," Durant said. "We matched their intensity and were able to take that punch and give a bigger punch back on the defensive end."
Durant knocked down 9 of 21 from the field and 11 of 15 free throws. He also had 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal, helping limit Atlanta to just 36 percent shooting.
"We finally got a couple stops in a row at the end," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Any time you hold an NBA team in the 30s percent-wise in field goals, then you’re doing a good job defensively."
Coming off an impressive 118-94 home victory over Indiana, the Thunder had more trouble on the road against the Hawks. But the result was the same: another Oklahoma City win, despite a tough shooting night for Russell Westbrook. He was held to 14 points on a 6-of-21 effort, though he did sink an impressive reverse layup with 1:41 remaining to help finish off Atlanta.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 23 points. Al Horford was held to seven, unable to get anything going against the Thunder’s stifling defense.
Oklahoma City appeared in control after a 10-0 run finished off by a spectacular play. Jeff Teague turned it over near midcourt, Westbrook took off the other way on what looked to be a layup, only to flip the ball back over his head to Durant streaking down the court for a thunderous dunk that stretched the lead to 88-75 with 6:47 remaining.
"You have nights when you don’t make shots, but you can’t have nights when you don’t play defense," said Westbrook, who had 11 assists. "I take pride in defending every single night and trying to help my team win games."
Led by Mack, who went 3 of 5 from 3-point range, the Hawks closed to 95-92 with just over 2 minutes remaining. The home team didn’t score again, missing its final four shots.
"Shelvin Mack gave us a great lift. He made some big shots," Teague said. "We just didn’t have enough at the end."
Reggie Jackson hit two difficult shots in the final minute of the third quarter after the Hawks sliced into Oklahoma City’s 15-point lead — first with the shot clock running down, then a fadeaway just ahead of the buzzer to end the period. The Thunder went to the fourth up 76-68.
Jackson finished with 13 points. Serge Ibaka chipped in with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Atlanta’s Kyle Korver missed three shots beyond the arc in the first half, but knocked down a 3-pointer early on in the third quarter to extend his record streak with at least one trey to 91 games in a row. In the previous game, Korver broke the mark set by Dana Barros from 1994-96.
"There were a couple of stretches where we just couldn’t get good shots," Korver said. "We all know we have room to grow. We’ve got to get better, but we can get better."
NOTES: Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha did not play after spraining his right knee in Sunday’s victory over the Pacers. Andre Roberson made his second start of the season and had two points and five rebounds. … The Hawks’ biggest lead was two points. … Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins was called for a flagrant foul in the third quarter when he whacked Teague across the chin and neck as the Hawks guard drove for the basket. … Millsap had 12 rebounds, while Horford added 10. … The announced attendance was 12,503, but the upper deck behind each basket was largely empty.