*Clicks and drags game recording to recycling bin*
There, that’s better! Rehashing such a disastrous game would be both an affront to your time and a disturbing way to ruin your day. I’ll simply state that Milwaukee waved the white flag early in the third quarter down by 30, and it devolved to an eclectic mix of washed-up players toiling with sub-par younguns until the buzzer mercifully sounded and Milwaukee lost 110-79.
Giannis Antetokounmpo found himself stymied nearly every time he wound to the rim, ending at 11 points, ten rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 24 minutes after getting pulled in the third quarter alongside the other starters. Khris Middleton wasn’t much better, as Andre Roberson forced him to just nine points on 4-11 shooting to go with two rebounds and two assists. Spencer Hawes at 10 points and five boards and Michael Beasley with 14 points were the lone other contributors, although Beasley left the game late favoring the same knee he injured a few weeks ago.
Of course, Russell Westbrook found his way into his 41st triple-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in just 27 minutes. Enes Kanter helped him out with 17 points and five rebounds, and Alex Abrines hit 12 points on 4-6 shooting from behind the arc before leaving with an injury.
Milwaukee fell behind in the second quarter while Russell Westbrook was on the bench, and his return just exacerbated Milwaukee’s preponderance of issues tonight. The final stats are barely even representative of the game given the Bucks pulled their starters at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter and proceeded with hot trash lineups. For what it’s worth, Milwaukee shot just 35.8% including just 3-18 from deep while OKC shot 47.6% on the night. Milwaukee was unable to keep OKC from the offensive boards while their starters were in, and couldn’t find any semblance of offensive rhythm on their end. Unable to score off turnovers (just eight points off TOs tonight), Milwaukee laid the ugliest egg of the season.
Milwaukee failed to capitalize in the opening minutes, with two transition layups foiled by Andre Roberson at the hoop. OKC found their way to simple baskets, penetrating and passing beneath the rim to teammates for perfunctory lay-ins. Giannis, undeterred by Roberson’s block, responded by forcing his way in and two-stepped by a defender for a dunk that tied it up at 11. Kidd opted to give Gary Payton II first quarter minutes, and the fresh Buck delivered, scoring two quick layups, but the Thunder hit five straight shots to end the first ahead 28-20.
The bleeding continued into the second, as Milwaukee’s bench unit hemorrhaged points on the interior and exterior. Two Alex Abrines’ triples put OKC ahead 40-22. Alarmingly, this damage occurred primarily with Russell Westbrook on the bench. Upon his return, their upward trend only accelerated, and Milwaukee treated the paint like a ticket booth, allowing Thunder players by whenever they liked until they notched a 53-34 lead. Michael Beasley provided a gut punch to the Bucks’ queasy offense, then suffered one of his own on the defensive end, biting badly on a Westbrook shot fake that led to a Gibson finish. Westbrook knocked in one more three for good measure, and a discombobulated half for Milwaukee ended trailing 39-63.
Giannis led Milwaukee with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists, although the brunt of that came in the first quarter. Middleton had just six points, and Spencer Hawes played second fiddle by posting eight points. By contrast, Oklahoma City was led by Westbrook’s bountiful stat line, where he nearly reached a triple-double already with 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Enes Kanter chipped in 11 points and four rebounds, while Steven Adams had seven points and five rebounds.
Milwaukee was outclassed entirely, giving up eight offensive rebounds, getting outscored by 10 in the paint and shooting just 39.0% to OKC’s 51.0%. Eight three-pointers were all Milwaukee shot for the half, hitting only one for a 12.5% conversion rate. The makings of a rout were well underway.
And what a rout it was. The second half featured no miraculous comebacks, no startling revelations or stunning turnarounds. No, instead it featured a general malaise, as the first six minutes of the third proceeded precisely how the previous 18 minutes had gone. Russell Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record within minutes, and OKC held a 76-46 lead midway through the third as Milwaukee’s starters exited stage right. Advance to the end of that quarter, and a 30-point lead remained, 89-59. By this point, Milwaukee effectively turned into your friend when they’re down by 40 in 2K and suggest, “Let’s do an all alley-oop game!” It was not fun, and neither are only alley-oop games.
Michael Beasley seemed to re-injure his leg early in the fourth quarter and hobbled off the court as Milwaukee’s deficit only grew. The reserves played pickup, and the referees finally provided us a reprieve from the on-court horror. Milwaukee loses 110-79.
- Khris Middleton was swimming in the paint defensively whenever matched up against Andre Roberson in the first. Roberson’s limited shooting ability is well documented, and that afforded Khris maximum leeway to help profusely, particularly providing some weakside doubling whenever Thon was bumping in the post against Adams.
- Andre Roberson had two transition blocks of Giannis and Tony Snell in the open court within the first five minutes. He backs that up with an impeccable one-on-one ability too. Even given his obvious offensive deficiencies, his success on-court is an interesting test case for defensive only players nowadays. He would be better served on a team with more shooting.
- Milwaukee’s lack of backcourt firepower was particularly noticeable as the Thunder continually hid Russell Westbrook on the soft off-ball guards for Milwaukee. Even though Westbrook’s defense has been questionable this year given his necessity to carry the offensive load, the Bucks’ inability to test or tire him to any extensive degree put them at a disadvantage. For what it’s worth, Brogdon probably wouldn’t have changed that too much.
- Gary Payton II got early run for Milwaukee, with Kidd inserting him around the 2:00 mark of the first quarter. He responded immediately with two quick layups, and had his minutes smartly matched up with Semaj Christon’s, one of this Thunder roster’s weakest links. Unfortunately, it mattered little as Christon still bested Payton on the offensive end. Rashad Vaughn can’t be feeling great right now. He’s probably feeling even worse after doing absolutely nothing with plenty of garbage time tonight, ending 2-7.
- OKC went on a 22-11 run when Russell Westbrook went to the bench in the first quarter and into the second. That’s not exactly ideal, and underscored just how deficient even Khris Middleton was tonight in buoying lineups that didn’t feature Giannis. Sure, the slaughter spread deep into the second when Westbrook returned, but if you can’t harvest points against Enes Kanter inside, that’s an issue.
- Milwaukee’s offense looked entirely without focus tonight. OKC’s defense is tailor-made to stifle Milwaukee’s weaponized frontcourt with Roberson’s versatility, Gibson’s rugged interior defense and Adam’s brutal agility down low. Without any semblance of a guard who could fracture that strengthened core, Giannis and Khris needed someone else to create on their own and this roster just doesn’t have the horsepower to make that happen.
- It’s now 78-48 with 4:21 left to go in the third. Greg Monroe just spun like a creaky lazy susan watching Steven Adams finish an alley-oop behind him. The lineup is Gary Payton II, Jason Terry, Mirza Teletovic, Michael Beasley and Greg Monroe. The Bucks seem to have given up, and Jason Kidd seems to have done the same. Fear not dear readers, I will soldier on and try to offer insight into this sordid affair.
- Thon Maker, Spencer Hawes, Gary Payton II, Michael Beasley and Rashad Vaughn shared the floor for the first time this season. Amidst this utter destruction, it seemed like the scenario of Beasley’s high-usage dreams. Instead, he hobbled off the court favoring the same knee from which he just returned. It seems playing someone recently returned from an injury that lingered far longer than let on by the initial diagnosis in a blowout as the focal point of a lineup where it’s pretty obvious he’s the only one capable of creating anything resembling offense is a very poor idea.
Here’s a power ranking of my favorite fourth quarter garbage time events:
- Doug Collins admitting this was the type of game he would’ve tried to get thrown out of as a coach.
- Mirza Teletovic’s circus moves on his way to the basket, including a spin move against fellow Domantas Sabonis.
- Me remembering that Norris Cole plays for the Thunder.
- Nick Collison looking like a competent player against Thon Maker and Spencer Hawes despite his offensive possessions often ending with him scrambling for the ball at his feet like a grandfather fishing for his bifocals.
- Gary Payton II not going in for a dunk at the buzzer and just dribbling out the clock. Come on man, we’ve seen the highlights videos.
- A vigorous candy debate broke out on Bucks Twitter tonight, spurred on by the very rational take from Eric Nehm below. Out of respect for your time, I will simply state that Haribo Sour S’ghetti and white chocolate Reese’s are the two finest candies ever made. Honorable mention to the caramel Cadbury egg.