The Oklahoma City Thunder (26-17) fell flat on Tuesday night in Atlanta, as the Hawks (14-30) hit 18-of-37 from long range to outrun OKC by a final score of 142-126. The Thunder had four men score 20+ points — Russell Westbrook (31), Paul George (24), Jerami Grant (21), and Dennis Schroder (21). However, the Hawks shot 62.2 percent for the game and outscored OKC 45-26 in the fourth quarter to come away with the unexpected victory.
Though the Thunder led 29-25 after the first quarter, the Hawks caught fire in the second — scoring 45 points on 18-of-29 (69.2 percent) shooting to take a 70-59 lead into the halftime break. Atlanta hit 9-of-18 from three in the first half and led by as many as 15 before a brief Thunder run to end the second quarter trimmed the deficit to 11.
Like Saturday against the Spurs, Dennis Schroder sparked the Thunder after halftime. The backup point guard shot 3-of-3 in the third (2-of-2 from long range) and scored 14 points in the frame. He and Westbrook combined for 26 points in the quarter, as the Thunder outscored Atlanta 41-27 and recaptured the lead headed into the fourth. OKC led 100-97 with 12 minutes to play and looked ready to pull away from an inferior opponent.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, the fourth quarter looked very much like the second. Atlanta got hot yet again, shooting 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) in the frame and knocking down five three-pointers to outscore OKC 45-26. The Thunder shot just 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) in the final frame, falling behind by double-digits before the starters were pulled with a minute remaining. Young scored 14 points in the fourth to put the game away for the Hawks.
John Collins led the way for Atlanta with 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting. He was joined in double-figures by a whole gaggle of Hawks — Trae Young (24), Alex Len (24), Kevin Huerter (17), DeAndre’ Bembry (16), Vince Carter (11), and Omari Spellman (10). The 142 points is their new season-high.
Where’s the Defense? The Thunder defense was absolutely cooked in this one, as Atlanta got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. It’s the second time in three games the D has given up 142+ (though, to be fair — the other one went into double-overtime) and the second time in three games that an opponent has hit at least 16 three-pointers. The mighty Thunder defense is suddenly quite shaky on the perimeter. Giving up two 45-point quarters tonight was terrible to watch.
Bullied Down Low. In addition to their barrage of three-pointers, the Hawks made easy work of OKC down low. The Hawks outscored the Thunder 68-54 in the paint and out-rebounded OKC 44-40. Steven Adams posted 16 points and seven rebounds but was outplayed by Alex Len for most of the evening. You read that correctly.
Fast Breaking. Though Atlanta scored a season-high 142 points, the Thunder thoroughly dominated in transition by a final tally of 40-10. Sure seems like a good way to win a game — alas, they did not.
Forgettable night for PG. Paul George struggled from the field on Tuesday night, hitting just 6-of-18 from the field and 5-of-12 from long range. Obviously you’ll take the three-point shooting but 1-of-6 from inside the arc isn’t going to get the job done. He was 7-of-7 from the line and could stand to stay more aggressive throughout.
The Brodie. Russell Westbrook dropped 31 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and five steals — shooting 10-of-21 from the field and 11-of-14 from the line. He only turned it over twice in a solid effort for the former MVP.
The Schrodie: Schroder had his moments in his return to Atlanta, scoring 21 points — all of which came in the second half. His inspired third quarter looked like it could propel the Thunder to a comeback victory. He went 1-of-5 from the floor in the terrible fourth quarter.
Last Word. Really, really ugly loss. The type of game last season’s Thunder squad would lose. OKC has suddenly lost four of their last five games but still lead the fourth-place Rockets by a full game in the Western Conference.
The Thunder will look to regroup ahead of Thursday’s home tilt with the Los Angeles Lakers. That game tips at 8:30 P.M. CST and will be nationally-televised on TNT.