Hawks top Thunder 104-95
BY JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer
Sunday, November 04, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY — Al Horford had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lou Williams added 10 of his 19 points during Atlanta's decisive fourth-quarter surge and the Hawks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-95 on Sunday night.
Williams hit a 3-pointer, a 24-foot jumper and converted a three-point play off a driving scoop in the lane during a 12-4 push midway through the fourth quarter that put the Hawks in front to stay. Williams' two free throws made it 91-84 with 4:44 to play, and Atlanta held off a final charge by Oklahoma City.
Williams ended up scoring 14 points overall during the fourth quarter as the Hawks won their road opener despite playing without starting forward Josh Smith because of a sprained right ankle.
Kevin Martin scored 28 points off the bench to lead the Thunder and Kevin Durant chipped in 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Durant was two assists shy of his first career triple-double but also wound up with six turnovers while shooting 2-for-8 in the second half. Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook had an off night, making 5 of 18 shots while scoring 14 points and passing out nine assists.
The Thunder pulled to 91-89 after Martin's 3-pointer from the left corner got the crowd roaring with 4:06 to play. Kendrick Perkins protested after being called for a foul for hacking Devin Harris on the arm on a baseline drive, and Harris hit both free throws.
On the next trip, Westbrook tried to save a rebound under the basket but ended up feeding Horford with a behind the back pass for a dunk. Another Horford dunk set up by Zaza Pachulia and DeShawn Stevenson's 3-pointer — also off a Pachulia pass — bumped the lead to 100-91 with 1:28 to play.
That was too much for Oklahoma City to overcome.
Atlanta scored 31 points off of 21 Thunder turnovers and turned 12 offensive rebounds — six by Horford — into 16 points. Jeff Teague had 16 points but was replaced down the stretch by Harris, who was dropped out of the starting lineup in favor of Stevenson.
The Hawks hit four straight shots and scored 11 consecutive points to take the lead late in the first quarter, with Teague connecting on a pair of driving baskets and two free throws to make it 22-16. Atlanta's advantage reached as high as 10 after Williams' jumper in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter before Martin hit a 3-pointer to start Oklahoma City's comeback.
Westbrook set up a two-handed dunk by Serge Ibaka and hit a jumper from the right elbow as the Thunder scored 15 of the last 19 points in the first half to take a 51-47 lead. Ibaka then hit the first three baskets of the second half to stretch Oklahoma City's lead to nine before Atlanta scored eight in a row to get back to 57-56 on Horford's putback.
NOTES: Brenda Pantoja became the third woman to officiate an NBA game, following veteran official Violet Palmer and fellow rookie Lauren Holtkamp. Holtkamp, who made her debut in the Bulls-Cavaliers game on Friday night, are two of six non-staff officials who will work games this season. Pantoja, a former Arizona point guard who holds the school's career record for assists, has worked in the WNBA and NBA development league in recent years. ... The Hawks also won last season's only meeting. ... Durant, the three-time scoring champion, came in leading the NBA with 15.5 rebounds per game.
Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague, center, drives between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) and center Kendrick Perkins (5) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City on Sunday. SUE OGROCKI/Associated Press