The Thunder went to Atlanta on MLK day to show the Hawks what brotherhood is all about. Oklahoma City not only won the game, but also reached its 23rd win in only 41 games. For those of you not in the know, it took the Thunder 82 games to reach 23 wins last season. That by itself is quite an accomplishment, but this game seemed to be the NBA's MLK holiday jewel piece. Where else would anyone want to play on MLK other than Martin Luther King's hometown? The Thunder did not disappoint. Kevin Durant showed why he is a scoring superstar. Westbrook displayed his explosiveness and ability to lead this young team. Being televised on NBA TV, the Thunder showed the world that the hype from last summer was not hype.
Brooks went with his usual line up for the Thunder even though Krstic's last couple of games has been fairly disappointing. Bibby exchanged greeting with Brooks who coached him in Sacramento. The Thunder was missing a major component with Nick Collison out with a concussion. Collison had to observe the game in street clothes, well if you consider a black pinstripe suit with white tie street clothes.
Awards, Quotes, and Observations after the jump...
- The game started with a rather bad omen when Green got called for a three second defensive violation within the first 12 seconds of the game. Talk about wondering what happened. We tip-offed and get hit with a call that quickly.
- Early in the first quarter Kevin Durant delivers the ball to Nenad Krstic who is rolling to the basket for the jam. Shortly after that Westbrook delivered the ball to Sefolosha who knocked down a 3-ball. Any time Sefo hitting threes and Nenad rolling are good signs for the Thunder.
- The Hawks scored in the paint often.
- KD was his usual self during the entire game. Kevin was curling off screens, knocking down long bombs, and getting to the free throw line.
- Westbrook had 8 points, 9 assists, 4 boards (3 offensive), and a steal with only 3 turns. In one possession Westbrook stripped the ball and passed it up court for an easy KD slam.
- When Serge was in the game, he was constantly battling for the boards. Pay attention guys, Ibaka is quickly becoming our best rebounder. Serge did have some bad luck. Ibaka put up a seemingly clean block, but was called for a foul. He also goaltended a ball rolling off the rim. Obviously, he is having a hard time breaking the habits he developed playing ball in Europe.
- OKC's rookies got plenty of burn against this talented ATL team. Several times with only one veteran on the floor. Aren't rookies only supposed to get better? I can't wait until next year!
- Thabo posted up the Hawks smaller guards a few times in the 2nd half.
- Did you guys see when #22 tipped an amazing put back after an Ibaka miss.
- Durant's streak of 30 point games ended when he failed to hit a clutch free throw that would of put the Thunder about the Hawks by 4 points.
Thunder Wonder - Not only was Krispy hitting his usual mid-range jumper, but he was rolling to the basket, tipping in missed shots, posting up with a little hook, and even knocked back a fade away. I'm not the biggest Nenad fan, but I got to give him credit. Krstic definitely stepped up with Collison out.
Thunder Down Under - Jeff Green has been several fans whipping boy lately. Green's game on Monday was far from perfect, but he made big plays when it mattered. Not only did Uncle Jeff lay down that delicious dunk on Smith to help secure the win. Green's active hands tipped a few passes. Including one pass that was scooped up by Harden, passed back to Green. Jeff then passed once again to Westbrook who was driving the baseline only to hand the ball off to Ibaka for dunk. Oh yeah don't forget that block on Horford.
Thunder Blunder - Byron Mullens lack of experience showed in this game. On a few possessions B.J. looked a little lost and unsure where to set a screen. Mullens nearly lost the ball with a lazy pass. Overall, it was kind of hard to gauge his game with only 5:39 minutes logged, but since the entire team played rather well Byron is getting pegged as the Thunder Blunder.
Thunder Plunderer - Jamal Crawford was the potential Thunder Plunderer. Especially when he launched up a prayer of a shot that could have tied the game late in the 4th. But he missed. So the Thunder Plunderer is Josh Smith. Josh had 18 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocked shots. Need I say more?
"Of course making shots is good, but if we can come back and get a stop, that means we're in the game," Durant said. "I think we did that. Joe Johnson hit some tough shots, but we've got to live with those. I think we got stops when we needed... - Kevin Durant
"We know our record," said Jeff Green. "We know what happened last year. But last year is the past...... We're playing great ball. We're playing great defense. We're playing together. That's the big thing. We're making strides, getting better...
"We got outworked it seemed like in every aspect of the game," said Josh Smith.
"I reached in and he kind of took my balance from me," Josh Smith said. "I had to contest the shot, but I knew he was going to make it because he can palm the ball extremely well and he had a step on me."
"I've got a lot of respect for Oklahoma City's team," Josh Smith said. "They're young, they're exciting and they play hard. They play together. Even though Kevin Durant is the forefront of the team, he has a lot of mini-stars around him. He gets them involved at all times during the game."