Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks have already beaten the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat this season, so it was only natural they’d have at least one win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Josh Smith was huge with 30 points and 12 rebounds, while performing one memorable dunk Serge Ibaka will not forget for a long time.
No Joe Johnson, or any rare contribution from a surprising player on the bench. Tracy McGrady, for example, played only 2 minutes. It wasn’t like the Thunder had some awful night from Kevin Durant, who finished with 35 points and 8 rebounds, his second consecutive game of at least 35 points and 8 rebounds.
It wasn’t even some awful shooting night from Russell Westbrook. He finished with 25 points while shooting 10-21 from the field. However, only 4 assists do tell part of the story. Kendrick Perkins limited to only 15 minutes because of foul trouble and eventually fouling out tells another. James Harden, the third edge in the Thunder’s scoring triangle, finished with 10 points on a quiet game from his as well.
But Josh Smith dominating was probably the biggest reason for the Hawks. One of the best athletes in the league, who never made the leap into superstardom and consistency many always hoped will happen. Smith scored 13 of Atlanta’s last 15 points, grabbing 7 rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. Without Perkins, it was his time dominate, despite the Hawks missing quite a few players.
Josh Smith – It’s all mental. When you’re exhausted and tired you have to try to push through it. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t believe in making excuses … I wanted to be the guy to try to will us to win this game. I was able to find some cracks in their defense, and put the ball in the hole.
For Smith, who’s averaging 16.6 points and 9.9 rebounds this season for the 22-15 Hawks, it was the fourth consecutive double double and his third game of at least 30 points and 12 rebounds this season. The talent is there, but something never really fully clicked for Smith, who at the end of the day, will mostly be remembered for his dunks than everything else.
The Thunder fell to 29-8, the obvious cream of the crop in the West as the Spurs trail behind, 3.5 games behind to be exact. The Bulls (30-8) and the Miami Heat (28-8) continue to lead the East. The Hawks, as usual, will finish somewhere around the 4-6 position in the Eastern conference, but will its way out when it faces the Bulls or the Heat.