By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Thunder Soar To Victory Over Hawks 123-115 With Russ’ 9th Triple Double
The Thunder came into the game against the Hawks with some very bad news from GM Sam Presti. Mr.Presti announced that the reigning MVP Kevin Durant will be out indefinitely. Kevin Durant has been practicing trying to get back on the court and help his team fight for that 8th seed in the West but still has swelling. Presti said “KD will be out as long as it takes until his swelling goes down in his foot”. The Thunder had to take that news fro to defend going into the game. Before the game Jeff Teague said “He’s going to score, we just have to find a way to defend him as best as we can as a team”. Well with that being said the Thunder and Westbrook came out very flat and seemed to not have an answer for the Hawks who’s ball movement was a thing of beauty to see. The Hawks were hitting 3 pointers and were attacking the paint in ways that the Thunder haven’t quite seen this season. Pero Antic had 18 points a career high in the first half against the Thunder and was hitting some very wide open jumpers because of ball movement. He finished with 22 points as the Thunder put Perry Jones III on him in the second half which shut him down to only 4 points.
The Atlanta Hawks were doing very good in the first half but just couldn’t find a way in the second half. The Hawks had 7 players in double figures and they couldn’t buy a basket for stretches in the second half. The Thunder locked down defensivem Presti and then they had to channel it and turn the attention to the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks who are coming in off a loss to the Warriors. The Hawks knew that Westbrook would be a challenge in the 3rd quarter and the late stages of the game in the 4th.
Russell Westbrook had his 9th triple double of the season and has been playing out of his mind. Russ had 36 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds as he willed his team to victory tonight. Let it be known that Russ was in full attack mode as he had went 17-17 from the free throw line and couldn’t be stopped. The Hawks put Carroll, Teague, Mack, Schroder, and Bazemore on him and they couldn’t get the job done when it mattered the most. Russell also praised the play of Anthony Morrow and how he has been a huge lift to the team in this run that their on.
Dion Waiters had finally showed us the Waiters that everyone thought was coming into town as he was hitting everything. You know its a good night for Dion when his step back jumper and his fancy layups are going in. Dion finished the game with 26 points on 18 shots and credited his performance to his coach Scott Brooks. Waiters talked about his aggressive play and just sticking with what he does best and also watching film with coach Brooks.
Waiters was great but the late surge of his teammates Russell Westbrook and Anthony Morrow sealed the deal. Anthony has been Russell Westbrook’s go to guy and has felt comfortable with him on the court in pressure situations. Anthony Morrow hit six 3 pointers tonight and finished with 21 points as he has been a true 3 point specialist. The performance of Morrow and Waiters is very huge as no one knows what will happen with Kevin Durant’s injury. One thing that can be noted is that if Morrow and Waiters play like this with the addition of (Enes Kanter out with ankle injury) they will be very scary to face the way their leader has been all over the place.
The Thunder play the Miami Heat on Sunday and they are truly on fire and are finding their chemistry as a team. Right now the Thunder are 2 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans who have also played the last two games without Anthony Davis. Thunder are trying to weather the storm and get into the playoffs and take it one step at a time. They did get hit with another injury in tonight’s game as Nick Collison was able to talk about the crowd and his injury. Mitch McGary who got the start tonight will have to be able to play some serious minutes if Collison and Kanter are unable to play on Sunday.