The Bucks were able to keep a hideous game somewhat close throughout, but the Thunder are a really, really good team and decided to act like one towards the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter, as they turned the screws and pulled away to a 101-85 victory. This was the Bucks' fifth loss in a row and continues their empty 2014 as far as wins are concerned, while Oklahoma City snapped their recent Russell Westrbook-less free-fall (aka two straight losses) behind Kevin Durant's 33 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Before we get into the individual recaps and quick breakdown, let's discuss one player who didn't stick around long enough to have an impact on the game.
Larry Sanders was ejected with under seven minutes remaining in the first half after he picked up a flagrant two foul. Sanders had been getting more and more physical under the hoop with Thunder backup center Steven Adams throughout the second quarter, and it eventually came to a head when Adams bodied Sanders a little bit, to which Sanders retaliated by putting his forearm up by Adams neck/head. After Adams wiped that initial move away, Sanders immediately put his arm back up by Adams' face, this time more aggressively. It was never a really violent motion either time, but it certainly did appear intentional and warranted referee intervention. After going to the monitor to review the play, it was determined that Sanders' act was worthy of a more severe flagrant two call (both unnecessary AND excessive contact) and he was tossed. Here is the video of said incident:
Larry Sanders Ejected vs Thunder (via Jason Damiano)
Beyond it being disappointing from an on-court perspective--the Bucks were already short on bigs, either being injured or due to foul trouble--this ejection is just another tally on the bad news ballot for Sanders. It's already disconcerting enough knowing that once someone gets into Sanders' head it's only a matter of time before his temper bubbles over and spills all over the court, resulting in something detrimental to whatever the Bucks are trying to put together. What is getting rather annoying though is that Sanders hasn't shown an ability to meet that obstacle at a place where he can control it. As our guy Steve von Horn put it, there's no ''dim switch." Larry is either flipped on and playing well and doing good things on the court, or he's flipped off and getting reckless and making negative headlines. There are becoming fewer and fewer reasons to stay in Larry's corner when his behavior becomes a pattern (again). I don't know. I feel like I've written too much on this already. Let's move on.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a pretty fun bounce-back performance after his previous two starts, notching the second double-double of his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also added five assists, two steals, and two blocks. Most of his offense came on fun dunks, and the blocks...wow. The second block, against his idol Durant, was yet another highlight-type play that you'll probably see a few more times this week. For all the bad that can happen in a game (read above paragraphs), at least there's always Giannis. Yay.
(Update: We now have a Vine of the block Giannis had on Durant)
Brandon Knight added 13 points, and O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour shot well from three (8-13 combined), each adding 16 points. The decent three point shooting allowed the Bucks to make a few charges in the second half, but they weren't hot enough to put a real scare in Oklahoma City. Still, the 31 attempts from three are an encouraging sign, regardless of how many fall (though the falling part tends to help...).
Next up for the 7-29 Bucks are the Raptors Monday night in Toronto. John Henson traveled with the team to Oklahoma City and may be able to give it a go when the Bucks take the floor next. Henson's return can't come soon enough, both because the front court keeps getting themselves in trouble, and because I'm afraid Larry might try and power-bomb an opposing center through a press row table soon. The Bucks need their most productive big man back, and soon.