The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at home, 118-112. Behind the offense of Paul George and some stout first half defense, OKC was able to slow down the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks and hold them off in the end.
Paul George was once again the best player on the court, scoring 36 points on 12-21 shooting, including 8-12 from three, to go along with 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. His first half in particular put OKC on the right foot, as he scored 21 out of the gates to put the Bucks on their heels. And then, it was PG late as he helped protect a dwindling lead against Milwaukee’s final surge:
The Thunder established their control in the game by doing a phenomenal job against Eastern All-Star captain and MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo, holding him to only 3 points in the 1st half, including 0-6 from the floor. The Thunder used the length of Steven Adams, Jerami Grant, and Nerlens Noel to keep Giannis from finishing at the rim. While he still finished the game with 27 on an impressive 2nd half stretch, OKC was able to keep pace just enough to hold on for the win.
Jerami Grant in particular was impressive in this one, as he served as the help defense on Giannis. Grant finished with 5 blocks on the night to go along with his 16 points and 4 assists, and did a better job sealing off Bucks rebounders, an area where he has struggled in the past. OKC won the rebounding battle, 52-49 overall.
- Russell Westbrook finished with another triple-double, recording 13-13-11, through he shot 5-20 from the floor (2-5 from three). Russ did hit a clutch jumper in the 4th, but once again a number of his shots — particularly in the 1st quarter when he shot 1-7 — were quick ones with no rebounders present.
- Steven Adams suffered an ankle injury early on in the game, but finished strong as he shot 6-8 from the floor in the 2nd half for 12 points.
- Nerlens Noel once again had some impact minutes, scoring 6 in 17 minutes, including swatting two Giannis shots at the rim.
- Terrance Ferguson continues to show incremental growth. He showed more discretion pulling the trigger on threes (3-5) and is starting to move better without the ball as well, which is good because he has more athleticism than most in the NBA. He finished with 15 on 6-10 shooting, and hey, not bad on defense, kid.
- Billy Donovan tightened his bench again tonight, and to good effect. Dennis Schroder had a solid game in helping outperform the Bucks’ 2nd unit. Dennis finished with 14 and 7 assists, and finished +10 on the night.
- A final word from Paul Grant and Jerami George.