Undermanned, Undersized Hawks Slip Past Thunder

Undermanned, Undersized Hawks Slip Past Thunder

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The undermanned and undersized Hawks took the Thunder to task Monday night, winning a close game 110-108 despite giving up no small amount of size to the Thunder.

A late Paul Millsap shot gave the Thunder the ball back with 12.7 seconds left. All in all, the Thunder got four cracks at winning the game–Westbrook drove to the rim down the lane initially, missing.  He grabbed his own rebound and put it back up but was denied by Paul Millsap.  The ball went out-of-bounds, so the Thunder received the ball back with 2.9 seconds.

On the inbound, Westbrook then heaves a three–on which Donovan said a foul should have been called–that misses everything.

Steven Adams corrals the rebound with about a second remaining. For some incomprehensible reason, he decides to dunk it rather than lay it in.

Just a fraction of a second too late.

Check out the wild final seconds below:

Despite giving up an overwhelming interior advantage, coach Mike Budenholzer used creative defensive schemes and a whole lot of  Dennis Schroder, Paul Millsap, and Kent Bazemore en route to the Hawks’s road victory. The trio combined for 72, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists on the night.

All of this minimizes another fantastic offensive performance by Russell Westbrook, who scored 46 points, adding seven assists and 11 rebounds on 16-33 shooting. Asked about his performance after the game, though, Russ would have none of it:

“We don’t have moral victories around here, buddy,” Westbrook said.

Fair enough.

Although the Thunder out-rebounded the Hawks by nine boards, and despite Westbrook displaying his usual dominance, the Hawks outclassed the Thunder. It had everything to do with shooting: the Hawks outshot the Thunder by 10% (54.7% vs 44.8%) and made one more three-pointer despite shooting 12 fewer on the night.

The Hawks clearly knew the plan heading in:

“If [Westbrook] gets his points — he’s going to get that regardless,” Millsap said after the game. “The game plan was try to take everybody else out of it.”

Not that they had to do much to take Westbrook’s teammates ‘out of it’; the only other two players to score in single digits for OKC were defensive specialists Jerami Grant and Andre Roberson. Roberson, left open on the perimeter for the entirety of the game, shot just 5-14, including making just 3-9 three-pointers. That’s five more shots than ‘Dre’s ever taken in a regular season game.

“I’m just letting it fly, to be honest with you,” Roberson said. “It wasn’t falling for me early, but I stuck with it, and the team needed me to keep shooting, so that’s what I was doing. I just go out there and do anything I can.”

In Victor Oladipo’s absence, someone has to take his shots. Everyone knew that the Thunder’s greatest weakness was shooting well before the season started; nobody should be surprised when it catches up to them.

The Thunder fall to 16-12, while the Hawks improve to 14-14. Next up for OKC: they travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans tomorrow night at 7 P.M.

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