Durant returns, Thunder strike down HawksMar 5, 2011 - 4:00 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant returned to the lineup from a sprained left ankle suffered in Wednesday's game to score 29 points, grab eight rebounds and hand out five assists to lead Oklahoma City to a 111-104 win over Atlanta at Philips Arena.
Russell Westbrook supplied 28 points and nine assists while James Harden chipped in with 17 off the bench for the Thunder, who have won two in a row following a season-high three-game slide.
Joe Johnson netted 24 points and Kirk Hinrich totaled 21 for the Hawks, who have dropped two out of three and five of their last eight games. Al Horford ended with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
"That was a tough one," Johnson about the loss. "I thought we came out with the right energy and effort and dictated how we wanted the game to be played. We just didn't get stops when we needed to like we normally do."
Jamal Crawford contributed 19 points and five helpers off the bench but it was not enough to prevent the Hawks from falling to the Thunder for a fourth straight meeting.
Durant showed no ill effects from the injury right from the start, scoring 12 to lead the Thunder to a 31-26 advantage after the first 12 minutes.
"I just tried not to think about it," Durant said about the injury. "I just tried to have mind over matter. This game is mental, so, if you think about being injured, you're going to go out there and play like you're injured. My adrenaline was pumping a little bit. My teammates got me going and I was able to make some shots."
Atlanta briefly took a 38-37 lead on a Jeff Teague runner before the visitors embarked on a 15-6 surge, capped by back-to-back triples by Durant and Harden, to grab a 52-44 edge with 3:43 remaining before the intermission.
Harden poured in 13 in the period to help the Thunder take a 56-51 lead at the break. Oklahoma City scored 34 of its first half points in the paint and ended with 54 points inside.
Horford's jumper pulled the Hawks within 65-63 midway through the third period before Westbrook's driving layup finished a 12-3 burst to increase the margin to 77-66 with 2:40 to go in stanza. The Thunder took an 83-73 lead into the final quarter.
Trailing by nine with 3:12 to go, Atlanta went on a 9-2 push, finished by two Horford foul shots and a Marvin Williams putback, to cut the lead to 102-100 with 1:27 to play.
Westbrook then threaded a three from the right wing to send the lead to five on the Thunder's next trip down the floor. Durant, Westbrook and Daequan Cook each sank a pair at the line over the final 25 seconds to ensure victory.
Durant made 10-of-18 shots, including 4-of-5 from long distance. He also converted all five of his foul shots as the Thunder went 20-of-21 at the line. Nick Collison provided 10 points and five rebounds in the win, the 16th for Oklahoma City in 22 meetings against Eastern Conference foes...Johnson, Hinrich and Teague each had three assists...Atlanta was 20-of-25 from the line...The Hawks are 12-13 against Western Conference opposition.
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 111
Mar 4 9:51 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 83
End of 3rd
Mar 4 9:12 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 56
Mar 4 8:35 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 31
End of 1st
Mar 4 8:09 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Mar 4 7:42 PM
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