The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 85-78 to get back to .500 and collect their first winning streak in 20 months. Let us celebrate for a small amount of time, and then never speak of this specific game ever again.
Though Milwaukee had 15 and 16 point quarters to bookend the game and 16 turnovers, they were able stay ahead of Oklahoma City for most of the night. Granted they were without Kevin Durant (who is pretty good) and Russell Westbrook (who is also pretty good), but a win is a win, or something, right?
Reggie Jackson was the Thunder's pulse tonight, with 29/4a/4r. Outside of Jackson, only two Thunder players scored in double digits (Serge Ibaka had 14 and Anthony Morrow had 10). Thunder players not named Reggie Jackson combined to shoot 17-66 from the floor. That's 25.7 percent. That is gross.
The Bucks were equally as sloppy though, shooting just 40.7 percent from the field and a dismal 20 percent from three (3-15). Oklahoma City played somewhat solid defense, but the Bucks' offense wasn't exactly operating smoothly, either. 18 assists with 16 turnovers isn't exactly a great recipe for offensive efficency.
Milwaukee did most of its damage tonight in the paint, where they outscored Oklahoma City 50-28. With no jumpers falling consistently from anyone other than O.J. Mayo (19 points on 15 shots), Milwaukee had to find other ways to score. They were able to get just enough, and here we are, talking about winning streaks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (14p/9r) was one of the few Bucks to have a sustainable impact on the game. There were the usual struggles with getting around screens and such, but it's consistently encouraging to see him use his tools to create for himself and teammates.
There were a few times tonight where he'd back out for an isolation against whoever was on him. If he scored one or twice in a row, the next time he'd use the fear of driving by his man to create an open three for a teammate. He also used one of those opportunities to make Nick Collison look very silly.
Giannis continues to gain confidence game by game and has been one of the most consistent Bucks in the past week or so. It's been a real treat to see such improvement.
Zaza Pachulia had a sneaky good game as well, collecting 8p/10r/4a in 23 minutes. With Larry Sanders somewhat ineffective, Zaza was able to come in and rumble around on defense while providing his usual services as a high-post facilitator on offense. His performance wasn't pretty--well, an around-the-back dish to Jerryd Bayless for a transition slam was--but a few plays here and there was all the Bucks needed tonight.
Jabari Parker had perhaps his most quiet game as a pro tonight (6p/4r/3a). Parker had difficulty finding easy buckets and was just never really able to get into much of a rhythm on either end of the floor during his 20 minutes of playing time. No worries, though. If there was any night to pick to hide a bad performance in, it was this one.
- The Thunder scored 78 points tonight, their lowest since April 16, 2012. This game marks the fifth game in a row that the Bucks defense has held an opponent under 100 points. The Thunder are without two offensive machines, but the numbers are still impressive.
- This is the Bucks second win against a Western Conference team this season. They only won three against the West last year, and did not get their second until March 3rd.
- The Bucks bench outscored the Thunder 53-22 tonight. The bench had now outscored opponents' benches 371-214 this season.
- The Bucks will head to Florida for the weekend, as they face a young Orlando team on Friday with a chance to get to over .500. From there they will head down to Miami to face the Heat.