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Late burst not enough as Thunder fall 98-85 to Bucks

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Oklahoma City scrapped back once again, cutting a 22-point deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A scrappy effort from the Oklahoma City Thunder (11-18) once again wasn’t enough in a 98-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks (17-13) Friday night at Fiserv Forum.

The Thunder held the second-highest scoring team in the NBA to its second-lowest output of the season, but couldn’t get in a flow offensively.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was also a problem, going for 29 points (10-for-20) with 19 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks. The two-time MVP was nearly unstoppable, especially in the paint.

Oklahoma City jumped out to a 20-16 lead after the first quarter as both teams started slow, each shooting under 30% in the first 12 minutes. The slow pace continued with only seven fast-break points the entire game.

Milwaukee regrouped and outscored OKC 30-22 in the second quarter to take a four-point lead into halftime. The Thunder gave up another run in the third quarter, which started as a 14-0 spurt but eventually ballooned to 23-7, extending the Bucks lead to 22.

OKC stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to single digits, continuing a trend of not allowing opponents to run away late.

The Thunder used a 13-2 run, fueled in part by strong defense and pesky energy plays from guards Luguentz Dort and Kenrich Williams, to crawl back within seven points with under five minutes remaining.

Milwaukee answered with a late burst, however, including clutch three-pointers from Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo, and eventually finished off the 13-point win. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bucks. Middleton finished with 20 points.

Oklahoma City never found a rhythm offensively, finishing at 37% (31-for-85) from the field. The team also shot just 52% (11-for-21) from the free-throw line, made only 12 three-pointers, and gave up a 61-46 advantage on the boards.

Dort finished with a team-high 17 points (6-for-16) while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 14 (3-for-12) in his second game back after missing four straight. Al Horford, Hamidou Diallo, and Isaiah Roby scored 10 apiece.

The Thunder look to rebound Sunday night in Cleveland. Tip-off against the Cavaliers is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.