The Oklahoma City Thunder fought back from a 22-point deficit to tie the game with under 5 seconds remaining, but Giannis Antetokounmpo's game-winning layup with 1 second left gave the Bucks a 97-95 victory on Friday night. The Bucks' win snapped the Thunder's six game wining streak.
Russell Westbrook knocked down a three to tie the game at 95 with 6 seconds remaining. The Bucks came out with a play to isolate Giannis against Josh Huestis. Giannis ripped baseline and noticeably stepped out of bounds while eventually getting past Huestis to score over Westbrook at the rim.
Bucks win. Giannis gets the game-winner here — even though he very clearly stepped out of bounds. No call. Ball game. pic.twitter.com/VSSMglXg2v— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 30, 2017
The referees did miss a very obvious call that could not be reviewed. How clear a view did the ref have? This clear:
The official is 100% ball watching pic.twitter.com/pnJwJqL3Wr— Thunder Digest (@ThunderDigest) December 30, 2017
The Thunder can look back on this game and be proud of the way they fought back from 22 down. However, they can also look back and see the mistakes that put them down 22 in the first place, as well as missed opportunities down the stretch.
Paul George’s absence, due to a late game scratch on account of knee soreness, was felt early on both ends. The Bucks jumped out to an early 18-3 lead, beating the Thunder in the paint and on the perimeter. Giannis did a great job of dissecting the Thunder defense, knowing when to make a long skip pass for a three, and when to dump the ball inside for an easy dunk or layup. Khris Middleton and Tony Snell were the recipients of passes from Giannis that led to wide-open threes.
The Thunder offense played extremely poorly through the 1st quarter, only having 2 points midway. The turnovers and long perimeter shots put the Thunder in an early hole. They trailed by as many as 22, and trailed 38-18 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Thunder started their fight back into the game. The bench really gave the Thunder a much needed boost. Jerami Grant was more aggressive offensively, Raymond Felton got into the paint multiple times for easy layups, and Josh Huestis played well in extended minutes. The Thunder offense started to work its way into the paint and the Thunder defense became more intense. They slowly began to chip away at the Bucks lead but the Bucks still led 58-44 at the halftime break.
In the second half, Westbrook continued to carry the Thunder back into the game. He generated a high majority of the Thunder scoring, eventually getting the lead down to single digits. After a three from Huestis, the Thunder trailed 65-62. However, the Bucks seemed to have an answer for every Thunder run. They scored six straight points to get the lead back to 9. At the end of third, the Bucks led 73-67.
At the start of the 4th, the Bucks built their lead back to double-digits after some big shots from Middleton. Westbrook, again, put the team on his back and got the Thunder right back into the game. After trailing 83-69, the Thunder went on a 26-12 run to tie the game, led by Westbrook's heroics, which culminated in this deep three:
Ultimately, the game-winning layup by Giannis served as the final blow, coupled with the indignity of a missed call by the refs.
The Thunder shot 45% from the field and hit seven threes on the night. They left points on the board from the line, only hitting 12 out of 21 (57%). The battle inside was fierce all night and it showed in the numbers. The Thunder won the rebound battle 45-43, but lost in the points in the paint 54-50.
Westbrook carried the Thunder with 40 points (14 in the 4th), 14 rebounds, and 9 assists. Melo scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Grant scored 12 points off the bench and Felton put in 10 points.
Giannis had a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards along with the game-winner. Middleton chipped in 20 points and John Henson scored 18.
The Thunder return to action on Sunday evening in Oklahoma City against the Dallas Mavericks.