The Thunder fell in Atlanta on Monday, 106-100. OKC (11-7) is back in action on Thursday in Miami, but for now, here’s five observations from the loss:
1. Red-hot Westbrook
Russell Westbrook scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as he led the Thunder back from the dead and into, at one point, a four-point lead. But Westbrook’s tear came to an end just a little too soon on Monday. Russ missed a jumper with 1:57 to play and then turned it over on a crucial possession 38 seconds remaining. His teammates didn’t do a lot to help him down the stretch.
2. Does two centers mean no centers?
Football folks always say, if a team has two quarterbacks, it often means that it actually has zero quarterbacks. It’s crazy to think about, but coach Billy Donovan elected to go without either Steven Adams or Enes Kanter for a lot of this game. Adams played 14 scoreless minutes and took just one shot. Kanter shot 3 for 6 scored six points to go with 10 rebounds, but played just 16 minutes. Ten rebounds in 16 minutes is extremely efficient, yet Kanter can’t seem to earn more run.
3. Bench scorers went cold
Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow, the wings on whom the Thunder relies for scoring, failed to get going on Monday. Morrow performed OK, hitting 3 of 6 from downtown and scoring 10 points. But Morrow shot 0 of 6 from 2-point range, while Waiters shot 0 of 7 overall. D.J. Augustin didn't help much, either, scoring 0 points in 16 minutes.
4. Teague takeover
With the game tied at 96-all, Hawks’ point guard Jeff Teague took matters into his own hands. Teague, an All Star last season, blew past Morrow for a layup to put the Hawks up two, then did the same to Andre Roberson on the next trip down to go up four. After Kevin Durant brought the Thunder back within two, Teague made a pair of free throws to put the game on ice. Teague finished with 25 points.
5. Hawks dominated the paint
Paul Millsap and Al Horford smoked the Thunder, combining for 47 points and 24 rebounds. Contrasting that to the numbers of Adams and Kanter, and the Hawks had a bigtime advantage inside. Atlanta outscored the Thunder in the paint by 10.