Oklahoma City (22-18) at Atlanta (26-13)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 60° F
  • Game info: 2:00 pm EST Mon Jan 18, 2010
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The Atlanta Hawks clearly have confidence in tight games. The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to have grown tired of putting themselves in those situations.

After moving into first place on a clutch shot from Jamal Crawford(notes), the Hawks continue a five-game homestand Monday afternoon against a Thunder team that was finally able to avoid a late-game letdown.

Crawford hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap Atlanta’s comeback in a 102-101 win over Phoenix on Friday night. The Hawks (26-13) moved into sole possession of first place, a half-game ahead of Orlando.

“There’s no quitting in this team,” forward Josh Smith(notes) said.

The Hawks celebrated wildly as they improved to 2-0 on their homestand. They have won four straight at home and five of six overall.

Crawford has been indispensable for Atlanta as its sixth man in his first season with the team. He averaged 21.5 points in his last two games and scored at least 20 in four of his last six contests at Philips Arena.

The veteran guard is averaging 23.8 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 43.5 percent (10 for 23) in his last four games against the Thunder franchise.

While Crawford has made clutch shots throughout his career, it was apparent that the Thunder (22-18) sorely lacked a player who could step up late in games prior to a 98-80 win over Miami on Saturday night.

Oklahoma City lost 109-108 in overtime to San Antonio on Wednesday night and 99-98 at Dallas two days later. That was the first time the franchise lost consecutive games by one point since Seattle fell to Phoenix and Denver in December 2003.

“As competitors you want to win every game,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) said. “Even though that’s not possible, you want to win every game.”

Oklahoma City dropped two of its last three away from the Ford Center, including a 103-97 overtime defeat to Milwaukee on Jan. 2. Monday’s contest opens a four-game trip for the Thunder.

Durant averaged 32.7 points in his last seven road games. He is coming off the most efficient shooting game of his three-year career, helping the Thunder keep another game from getting close late.

Durant went 14 for 18 from the field versus the Heat to finish at 77.8 percent, scoring 36 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

“It makes the game so much easier when he’s going out there and scoring the ball,” Oklahoma City rookie guard James Harden(notes) said. “When the defenses collapse on him, that gets other guys open shots.”

The Hawks have won three straight against the Thunder franchise after losing the previous eight meetings. This will be the teams’ first meeting of the season.

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Monday, Jan 18