After taking the last two contenders to the brink of a loss, the Oklahoma City Thunder finally get their hard-earned, undermanned win against a title contender as they snap a 3-game losing streak by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 114-109.
The Thunder were able to pull the upset against the Bucks with an evenly distributed scoring game by the team. All five of their starters scored double-digit points. The team was able to do this by spreading the ball out, which resulted in 32 team assists.
This was one of Darius Bazley’s best games of the season, Bazley has been in a mental funk recently, where you can tell by his body language that he would hesitate and overthink what to do when the ball reached to him.
On Sunday, he was more aggressive and let the action come to him and it paid off with one of his best games of the year. Bazley finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Al Horford finished with a near triple-double of 20 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds, but his best work came on the defensive side of the floor where he did a great job at limiting reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who did finish with 24 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
But Horford made the MVP earn all of those 24 points and did a great job at just not letting him take over.
I thought the Thunder did an excellent job at compensating for their roster weaknesses of not having a true defensive big by trapping Giannis as soon as he touched the paint.
“Our defense did a really good job and I thought we put a lot of pressure onto Antetokounmpo with our help,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault.
Lu Dort got out of his recent shooting slump tonight as he shot 3-of-8 from three and finished with 19 points. My only complaint would be the unusual amount of turnovers Dort had in this game with 7.
But considering he was only averaging 1.3 TOs a game heading into tonight, I think his lack of ball security is more of an anomaly and a result of the Bucks’ lengthy wingspans scattered throughout the roster that would make driving lanes feel clogged up.
Justin Jackson continues to impress with his outside shooting in the past week as he scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting that included going a perfect 5-of-5 from three. This included hitting the dagger as he hit a deep and contested three-pointer to give the Thunder a five-point lead with 14.3 seconds left.
Kenrich Williams caps off his great week by scoring 10 points and dishing out 5 assists. I think Williams has been the biggest beneficiary of the recent Thunder roster issues as he has been given a lot of playing time to prove that he can stick to an NBA rotation. Williams’ stock has risen significantly and deservingly so.
Off the bench, Hamidou Diallo was able to dominate the boards and grabbed 13 rebounds. Diallo struggled to shoot the ball as he only went 3-of-16 from the field for 6 points. Diallo shooting the ball inefficiently is not that concerning, it is the fact that he finished tied first on the team for most shots taken.
I understand that a lot of guys were missing and somebody needed to take their shots, I just wished it was more evenly distributed among the other bench players as well, who only shot the ball a combined 13 times outside of Diallo.
Overall, the Thunder finally gets a win instead of a moral win against one of these upper-echelon teams in the league.
“It’s less about the win, and when you play teams like this, they require 48 minutes of execution,” said Daigneault. “They’re all a barometer of where we’re at as a team.”
Next Game: The Portland Trail Blazers come to OKC to play the Thunder on Tuesday.