Hawks stay unbeaten, top ThunderNov 10, 2008 - 5:13 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Trailing by seven midway through the fourth quarter, the unbeaten Atlanta Hawks appeared to be headed toward their first defeat of the season.
But Flip Murray scored nine of his 14 points off the bench during a key fourth-quarter run as the Hawks edged the Oklahoma City Thunder, 89-85, on Sunday.
Joe Johnson scored 25 points for the Hawks, who outscored the Thunder, 31-23, in the final quarter to remain the only team in the Eastern Conference without a loss.
"We're never out of games," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Our guys are very competitive, we were down seven with six to go. We took a timeout, and our guys responded and never looked back."
A pair of free throws by Johnson with 8:06 left knotted the score, 68-68, but Oklahoma City reeled off the next seven points to open its largest lead of the game.
Murray took over from that point, scoring nine points during a 12-2 run that put the Hawks ahead.
"It was huge," Woodson said of Murray. "He caught on fire and started making some shots, which made it easier for Joe and Mike Bibby. With Josh Smith out, we need guys to step up and play so we can do our thing."
"It was a big run, it was needed at the time," Murray said. "We were down seven, and it was a good time for me to step up. We miss Josh out there, but we've still got to come out and try to win without him."
Two free throws and a layup cut the deficit to three and, after a jumper by Kevin Durant, Murray knocked down a 3-pointer and another jumper to tie the game, 77-77.
Marvin Williams drained a three over a minute later, and Atlanta would not trail again.
"I wouldn't call it an ugly win," Woodson said. "A win's a win, we tried to warn our guys that their talent level and the way P.J. (Carlesimo) has (the Thunder) playing night in and night out isn't reflected in their record."
Three free throws by Joe Smith, who had 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Oklahoma City, evened the score at 80-80. But Johnson scored consecutive hoops to open a four-point lead and Atlanta sank 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.
Both teams struggled from the field as Atlanta shot just 37 percent (29-78) while Oklahoma City knocked down 34-of-87 attempts.
Atlanta led by eight points after the opening quarter but managed just 36 points in the middle two periods as Oklahoma City opened up a four-point lead heading into the fourth - a lead it eventually would relinquish.
"When you put yourself in position to win, you've got to finish," Carlesimo said. "The really elite teams know they are never out of a game, and they put themselves in positions to win games every night.
"We have to take advantage, we put ourselves in situation to win tonight. Even though we are young, I am encouraged about a lot of things that happened tonight, but we have to do it right now."
Al Horford collected eight points, 12 rebounds and five blocks while Williams added 16 points and seven boards for the Hawks.
Durant led the Thunder with 20 points but also had six of his team's 17 turnovers. Russell Westbrook scored 15 points off the bench.
"Russell is continuing to impress in his desire to lead," Carlesimo said. "Both he and Earl Watson are giving us good minutes on both ends of the floor, you can't pick on over the other. Therefore, there are a lot of situations where we will put them on the floor at the same time.
"Russell's aggressiveness was evident early on, and he did a lot of little things tonight that I am pleased with but he's still a work in progress."
OKLAHOMA CITY 85 FINAL
Nov 9 9:37 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 62 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 9 8:49 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 41 HALFTIME
Nov 9 8:08 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 14 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 9 7:39 PM
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