The Oklahoma City Thunder had their final dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season, and tonight’s opposition was the Milwaukee Bucks. Paul George scored 26 points in the first half and set the tone for a 119-115 Thunder overtime victory on Tuesday night.
OKC was still without the services of Russell Westbrook (knee) and Andre Roberson (patellar tendon). Also, Terrance Ferguson was added to the injury report after suffering a concussion against the Hawks and has since been placed in concussion protocol. Alex Abrines also sat out tonight. The Thunder went with George, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Patrick Patterson, and the rookie Hamidou Diallo in the starting lineup.
The Thunder started the game slow defensively, letting the Bucks drop 30 first quarter points. However, the Bucks had no answer for George, who burned them for 19 of the Thunder’s 27 in the first quarter. OKC picked up the defensive intensity in the 2nd quarter, only giving up 18. The defensive efficiency led to easy baskets and the Thunder led 55-48 at the half.
George said earlier this week that Diallo had the chance to be special and tonight the rookie showed us exactly why. Everybody knew that Diallo was a tremendous athlete but tonight he showed outstanding poise. He shot the long ball with confidence and weaved in and out of traffic like a player with much more experience. Thunder fans should be excited at the prospect that Diallo is.
The Thunder trailed 102-99 with under a minute remaining, then the Thunder defense sparked a 7-0 run down the stretch, and Bryce Alford and Deonte Burton made 7-of-7 free throws during the run. KJ McDaniels made 1 of 2 free throws, which allowed the Bucks a chance to tie the game. Tim Frazier nailed a three as time expired to take the game to overtime. Burton scored 10 points in overtime to help the Thunder secure the victory, hitting two clutch threes in the process.
George led the Thunder with 26 points (8-of-13 from the field, 3-of-5 from three) in just 19 minutes. Diallo finished with 19 points, he showed signs of great confidence, and a nice shooting touch that could lead to minutes in the regular season. Burton put in 16 points (10 in overtime). TLC also scored in double digits with 10 points off the bench.
Christian Wood had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks. Tyler Zeller scored 17 and Malcolm Brogdon had 12.
The Thunder finish the preseason with a 3-1 record and now have a week to prepare for the regular season opener.