The Oklahoma City Thunder led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gained a 109 -118 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. From tip off there seemed to be confusion on the court due to both teams were looking similar in uniform. According to the Thunder, the Atlanta Hawks wore the wrong red set of uniforms on the road. The result was Hawks uniforms were close in color to OKC’S bright orange game gear. Beginning in the first quarter, Atlanta immediately put Oklahoma behind them by crashing the boards grabbing; they grabbed the vast majority of the rebounds. As for the second quarter Oklahoma quickly made adjustments by stepping up their defense. What was a first quarter 33-31 lead for The Atlanta Hawks, switched to an 55-63 deficit by the end of the first half.
It was a battle for both teams in the first two quarters. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s impressive 24 points made it difficult for Atlanta to compete further with Oklahoma. Lu Dort played a a huge role on Fridays game with a solid 19 points giving OKC further advantage in the teams win. The Oklahoma City Thunder are now on a two game winning streak after defeating both the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs. Upcoming teams should come ready to play against the young team. When the Thunder communicate on both ends of the floor effectively their chemistry gels more as each player does his part. Hopefully for the Atlanta Hawks Trae Youngs and his team recover from the OKC road game.
STAR OF THE GAME
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was coming off quite a game. In his prior game Gilgeous-Alexander became the first Thunder player since former MVP Russell Westbrook to score 40+ points, dropping a career high of 42. Last night against the Atlanta Hawks, the ball was once more in Alexanders favor making him the Star of the Game. Scoring 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists he’s a player that other teams should be fully aware of on the floor. Offensively, with his ability to make plays as well as score, it seems as if being aggressive on the defensive end should be added to his list of accolades. Not only did he have no problem putting pressure on Atlanta but he did so all while attacking the rim and scoring.
He was driving past defenders throughout the game, seemingly with a green light to score at will in the lane. Like any great player Shai Gilgeous- Alexander looked for his teammates. He knew when to share the ball and set up teammates for great shots. Despite the size advantage between Alexander and Atlanta’s John Collins, SGA continuously got to the rim while scoring on the Hawks leading scorer of the night. Despite Oklahoma City losing their center in Al Horford, Alexander continued to push his team while on the floor. His effort may possibly gives them a chance to make it to the playoffs.
Both teams are in rebuilding mode. In fact, as part of the local telecast last night we learned that the #1 team in the Association with the most players in their twenties are the Atlanta Hawks. The Oklahoma City Thunder come in at #2 in that category. The biggest concern that I have is Atlanta only has one dominant scorer in Trae Young. The Oklahoma City Thunder did their part by keeping Young heavily guarded the entire game. When the ball managed to get into Youngs hands it resulted in a miss most of the time. Young shot a disappointing 7 for 21. For The Atlanta Hawks if Young’s performance continues to look as it did in Fridays matchup, they have no chance of making it to the playoffs.
Normally, scoring around the rim is not a problem for Atlanta Hawks Center Clint Capela. He’s a force near the basket scoring efficiently under the goal while leading the NBA in rebounds. He cleans up well for the Hawks. However, last night that wasn’t enough as the Thunder made adjustments by keeping Atlanta off the boards and away from the rim. At the start of the game the Hawks were shooting well and outrebounding their opponents. Trae, Capela and Collins did what they could scoring 17 ,17 and 25. It was just enough to keep them in the game but not defeat the opposing team.
After Darius Bazley didn’t score in the previous home game, his presence on the floor was made in the Atlanta matchup. He went from missing all eight shots taken in the game before to scoring 18 on 12 shots against the Hawks. Also, he was a key contributor in keeping the Atlanta Hawks off the boards with 12 rebounds in the game. The 6’8 power forward is making an impact this first season as his game continues to grow. He averages 12 points and last night showed what his scoring capability is made of.
NEXT HAWKS GAME
Vs. Miami Heat, Sunday, February 28th at 5:00pm Pacific
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