Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/4/12
OKLAHOMA CITY - Atlanta knew what it had to do coming into Oklahoma City if it wanted to pull out its first win of the season. It had to get out and run, limit its turnovers and not commit stupid fouls. The Hawks followed the plan to perfection as they pulled out a 104-95 victory over the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday. "I just thought it was a total team effort," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "You come into a building like this, which is a very tough place to win, you kind of dictate the pace and rhythm of the game. I thought we did a phenomenal job on the boards tonight. I thought our guys came in here, rolled their sleeves up and played four solid quarters." But there was one more component to Atlanta's victory that Drew hadn't counted on. That was the hot hand of guard Lou Williams. With Atlanta leading 86-84, Williams drained a 3-pointer with Kendrick Perkins running at him. The next time down the court he hit a pair of fouls shots to put the Hawks up by seven with less than four minutes left. The Thunder were able to close the gap to two points, but clutch shots from DeShawn Stevenson and Williams were enough to hold off the home team. Williams scored 14 of the team's final 19 points. "We just went through Lou Will," Stevenson said. "Lou Will had some big points and some big shots. Just played together, we ran zone, fought through and got the win." The defeat stung for Oklahoma City, which lost its first game at home this season. Besides committing 20 turnovers, it allowed the Hawks to control the boards in the final period and was unable to get stops when needed. "It shouldn't be going back and forth," the Thunder's Kevin Durant said. "We are a defensive team. We can't have breakdowns in the game. That goes down the line. That's everybody, the entire team. It's something to learn from. We will be better next game. On defense we have to play harder." The Hawks (1-1) played without the injured Josh Smith, but got quality minutes from its bench as 10 Atlanta players scored at least four points apiece. Al Horford paced the team with 23 points and Williams added 19 off the bench. "Lou got into a rhythm," Drew said. "We were going to ride it. I had to make a decision whether to bring Jeff (Teague) and Kyle (Korver) back. But that group that was in there had a good rhythm going, and I don't want to do anything to disrupt that. So we decided to ride Lou's hot hand. He made some really big baskets and some really big plays." Durant posted 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the defeat. Newly acquired Kevin Martin led all scorers with 28 off the bench. But only six came after halftime. "He's a terrific shooter," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Martin. "He scores in many ways. He's a 3-pointer shooter, he's a mover, he gets to the free-throw line. I think we did a good job of finding him open in transition and finding him in our offense." Atlanta didn't have many individual matchups that went in its favor. But Horford had one of them, and he took advantage of it. Whether Oklahoma City (1-2) stuck Perkins or Serge Ibaka on him, Horford was able to get off his shot. Durant caused his own set of problems for the Hawks. With Durant playing his new position of point forward, Atlanta had no one who could stay with the three-time scoring champion. Stevenson started out on him before Williams and Devin Harris came off the bench and took their turns on him. None of them could slow Durant down, and the Hawks switched to a zone defense. With three minutes left in the second quarter, the Hawks held a 43-38 advantage. But Martin led the Thunder on a 13-4 run to end the half. Atlanta looked to its bench in the third quarter to get itself back in the game. The Hawks stormed back into the lead and led 75-74 heading into the fourth quarter and never relinquished the lead. "The thing I just wanted to reiterate, especially during the timeouts: 'Let's just stay the course,'" Drew said. "We had a game plan. We knew that they would make runs. The thing we wanted to try to avoid were the momentum runs to try and keep the crowd out of it. And just respond to a run."
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