West­brook’s 3 lifts Thun­der past Hawks

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

OK­LA­HOMA CITY — The Ok­la­homa City Thun­der like their chances with the ball in Rus­sell West­brook’s hands at the end of a game.

West­brook hit a 3-poin­ter with 1.7 sec­onds left to cap a 30-point, 15-as­sist out­ing, and the Thun­der held off the re­silient Hawks 120-117 on Fri­day night. Carmelo An­thony added 24 points on 7-of-12 3-point shoot­ing and Paul George scored 17 for the Thun­der, who have won five of their last six af­ter a 12-14 start.

“I think we know now how to close and where we’re go­ing to to close,” George said. “Russ is our leader. ... We knew that we could kind of mess them up with the play that we had, cause some con­fu­sion.

“They backed off and Russ had an easy, open op­por­tu­nity. Russ is as good as any­body when it’s clos­ing time.”

At­lanta, in last place in the South­east Di­vi­sion, made Ok­la­homa City work for this one, ral­ly­ing af­ter fall­ing be­hind by 16 points in the first half, and again by seven in the fi­nal min­utes. Marco Be­linelli scored 30 points to lead At­lanta. Er­san Ilyasova added 22 points for the Hawks, who went 15 of 32 from 3-point range.

“There are a lot of things you can learn from a game like tonight,” At­lanta coach Mike Bu­den­holzer said. “It’s tough to not have the shot or the bounce at the end of the game, but to com­pete and play the way we did, re­ally both halves, but par­tic­u­larly the sec­ond half ... hope­fully our team can take some­thing from tonight about how we played.”

The Hawks led 92- 88 with 8:49 left af­ter a bas­ket by Kent Baze­more. West­brook re-en­tered the game and led the Thun­der on a 16-5 run. An­thony’s 3- poin­ter with 5: 34 left gave Ok­la­homa City a 104-97 lead.

The Hawks came back again, even­tu­ally ty­ing the game at 117 on two free throws by Ilyasova with 11.1 sec­onds left. Af­ter a time­out, George in­bounded to West­brook, who made the fi­nal shot over At­lanta’s Tau­rean Prince. With­out a time­out, the Hawks could man­age only a des­per­a­tion heave at the buzzer.

“We put our­selves in po­si­tion to (win) the basketball game with the last shot and it went down,” a hoarse West­brook said.

The Thun­der dom­i­nated the sec­ond quar­ter. They broke a 28- 28 tie with a 14-2 run to start the quar­ter, with Ray­mond Fel­ton and George each hit­ting two 3- point­ers. Af­ter the Hawks pulled within 51-43, Ok­la­homa City went on a 13-5 run and led 64-50 at half­time.

At­lanta scored 11 straight points to cut the Thun­der lead to 74-70 mid­way through the third quar­ter. Ok­la­homa City made only 19 of 31 free throws.


Hawks: At­lanta played with­out G Den­nis Schroder, who sat out with a left an­kle in­jury and was re­placed in the start­ing lineup by Be­linelli. Schroder had started and played 32 min­utes Wed­nes­day vs. In­di­ana. ... Prince went 1 of 3 from 3-point range and now has at least one 3-poin­ter in ca­reer-best 14 straight games. ... Be­linelli ex­tended his streak of con­sec­u­tive free throws to 28 ... At­lanta is 2-7 vs. Western Con­fer­ence teams this sea­son.

Thun­der: West­brook was called for an un­sports­man­like tech­ni­cal foul with 3:24 left in the sec­ond quar­ter for shov­ing Malcolm De­laney af­ter De­laney had fouled him. ... Steven Adams had 16 points and 10 re­bounds. ... The Thun­der now trail only 66-65 in their all-time se­ries with the Hawks, in­clud­ing the fran­chise’s time in Seat­tle. ... George and West­brook en­tered the game ranked first and sec­ond, re­spec­tively, in the NBA in steals at 2.45 and 2.10. George had three steals against the Hawks, and West­brook had two.

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