The Oklahoma City Thunder may not have even existed before 2008, but that didn't stop them from feeling nostalgic on '90s night in Milwaukee.
Despite the best efforts of Marquis Daniels and Luc Mbah a Moute, Kevin Durant scored 30 points along with eight rebounds and five assists and Russell Westbrook dropped a triple-double (23 pts, 6/18 fg, 13 rebs, 10 ast) to power Oklahoma City past a plucky Bucks team led by Ersan Ilyasova's 29 points and 14 rebounds and a first career double-double from Ekpe Udoh (14 pts, 11 rebs in 18 minutes). Serge Ibaka added 16 (7/8 fg), a season-high eight blocks and seven boards for the Thunder, while Kevin Martin scored 17 on 12 shots.
Perhaps inspired by Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" performance at halftime, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings shot an ice cold 6/30 from the field in combining for just 17 points and 11 assists, a big reason for the Bucks' awful 38% shooting for the night. Ibaka's interior dominance kept the Bucks interior scoring at bay much of the evening, but four triples from Ilyasova highlighted a big night from deep for Milwaukee (12/29 threes), which shot better from three (41%) than two (36%). Despite that awkward mix, the Bucks hung tight and even led early in the fourth thanks to 19 offensive rebounds and a total of just nine turnovers.
Westbrook dominated Jennings and Ellis on his way to 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the first half, helping the Thunder to a 56-46 halftime advantage. But the Bucks' ball control and offensive rebounding made up for a continued inability to hit shots in the third, as Milwaukee made it two quarters in a row without a turnover and drew even by the end of the three. Ibaka's dozen matched ten points from Ersan, whose 25 and 13 through three were badly needed given Jennings (3/11) and Ellis (1/12) had combined for a miserable 4/23 to that point.
The Bucks looked to be gaining in self-belief when Marquis Daniels scored five quick points to give the Bucks a surprising 92-87 lead early in the fourth...but then reality set in. After turning it over three times in just over three quarters, the Bucks coughed it up five times in six minutes to key a 19-2 OKC blitz highlighted by three easy finishes from Nick Collison and punctuated by a wide-open three from Durant. It wasn't quite the comedy of errors we witnessed against the Hawks last weekend, but it's not like the Thunder needed any help either. Otherwise, Larry Sanders picked up yet another technical for a cheap elbow on Collison in the third, but avoided a league-leading sixth ejection despite some late trash talking with Durant. Yay?
The Bucks will look to get back on track Monday when they host the Bobcats at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, while Oklahoma City is off until Thursday when they face off against the West-leading Spurs in Oklahoma City.