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Thunder 109, Bucks 89

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 9, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s win at Milwaukee.

  • Didn’t see that coming.
  • The Thunder won this game with its size. Milwaukee had no answer for the Thunder’s size and length. It was clear on the opening possession, when OKC got two offensive rebounds before Kendrick Perkins scored on a putback. The Thunder had four offensive rebounds in the first five minutes and just pounded the Bucks on the boards all night.
  • The Thunder’s length also was a major factor on the defensive end. Serge Ibaka helped set the tone on that end by blocking shots early and often and against almost everyone. Ibaka had four blocks in the first quarter and had five at halftime. All five were against five different players. By the midway point of the second period, the Bucks had begun unnecessarily hesitating on shots, seemingly out of fear of them getting sent back.
  • Buck coach Scott Skiles knew his team was outmatched in the size department before the game even began. Said Skiles in pre-game: “When we go out for the jump ball tonight, Durant is going to walk out there as their 3-man and he’s going to look our center in the eye. He’s just as tall as our center. He’s actually taller than our center.”
  • The best thing about the early defense was that it led to run-out opportunities. The Thunder was turning everything, missed shots, blocked shots and turnovers into transition chances. The Bucks weren’t ready for that speed and intensity.
  • Perk and Ibaka really deserve a ton of credit for the job they did of establishing themselves early on. They scored on putbacks and dump-offs, hit the glass hard and blocked shots to seal the paint. Their efforts helped the Thunder get out to a 13-point lead midway through the first period. It was no looking back from there.
  • Not only did the Thunder never trail in this game, but OKC never relinquished its double-digit lead after going up 20-10 with 6:34 left in the first quarter. The first Phoenix game at home is the only other game that comes to mind this season where the Thunder was that dominant for that long.
  • The Thunder’s 35 points in the first quarter tied a season high. OKC also had 35 against Boston on Feb. 22.
  • There were two critical moments in the third quarter that sealed it for the Thunder. The first came when the Bucks strung together a little 10-4 run to cut a 16-point deficit to 69-59 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the period. Out of a timeout, Russell Westbrook fumbled the ball while driving to the rim and turned it over. But Thabo Sefolosha intercepted a sloppy outlet pass by Drew Gooden and the Thunder scored seven straight to go back up by 17. The second moment came when the Bucks responded with a 7-0 run of their own to get back within 10 at 76-66.  Westbrook made a jumper to bump the lead to 12.  And then Scott Skiles and Brandon Jennings both decided they wanted technical fouls. They just gave away two points to stunt their own rally. Dumb, dumb decision. It sparked another 7-0 run (11-0 in total) to put OKC up 21. Ballgame.
  • Milwaukee essentially imploded tonight. The Bucks probably weren’t ever going to storm back and win it. But they certainly did everything they could to prevent that from even being possible. Those two technical fouls on Skiles and Jennings, coupled with another two in about a four-minute span on Larry Sanders really spelled the end for the Bucks.
  • Sanders got ejected after picking up his second technical foul for throwing an elbow in the general vicinity of Nick Collison’s teeth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets suspended, although he didn’t appear to make contact. (I didn’t have a good look at it.) Funny how the Bucks game night staff cued up the replay and then shut it off just before playing it on the jumbotron.
  • The five technical fouls the Bucks got called for tonight were the most they’ve had since Dec. 31, 2001.
  • Jennings on his team’s emotion: “I think when you’re playing hard in the second half and things aren’t going your way, you tend to get frustrated.”
  • Jennings looked terrified of going against Westbrook tonight. I’ve never seen the guy play as timidly as he did in the first half. Westbrook began to get careless with Jennings in the second half, and it clearly fueled the Bucks guard to a better performance in the final 24 minutes. But in the opening half, looked like he was playing scared.
  • Here’s all you needed to know about Jennings in that first half. His first shot didn’t come until five minutes had passed in the second quarter. We’re talking about a cat that never met a shot he didn’t like. Yet, he was ultra passive on offense tonight and just had a defeated look on defense.
  • Ibaka called Sefolosha the MVP of this one. Hard to argue that. I don’t think anybody would have thought Sefolosha would outscore Monta Ellis. But he did, 14-9. And Sefolosha helped hold Ellis to 3-of-12 shooting.
  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks on Sefolosha: “Thabo was all over. He basically was like a one-man wrecking crew. He caused havoc on the entire defensive end of the floor.”
  • Sefolosha recorded a career-high seven steals tonight. “I was just reading a little bit what they do,” Sefolosha explained. “Just anticipating a little bit more what they were going to do. I know I was playing against a guy that can get it going, but he wasn’t really shooting the ball well tonight so it allowed me to get off of him a little bit more and help and play the passing lanes.”
  • Sefolosha’s slashing in the second half…I can’t begin to describe how good it was. I just didn’t know Thabo had that in him. I guess he’s healthy.
  • Does anybody love behind the back passes more than Sefolosha?
  • Ibaka and Mike Dunleavy got called for a double technical foul late in the first quarter after getting tangled up. Ibaka stood over Dunleavy, sort of straddling him after a play and Dunleavy took exception to it and sort of went after Ibaka. After Ibaka initially began pleading with the ref, he just took matters, or should I say Mike, into his own hands.
  • A key to tonight’s win that likely will be forgotten is the Thunder’s 3-point shooting. In that dominant first quarter, the Thunder made four 3s, all of them coming by a different player.
  • The Spurs sat their big three tonight at Utah and saw their 11-game winning streak come to an end. So with the win, the Thunder is back in first place in the West. But San Antonio has played two fewer games and also holds the tiebreaker.
  • Derek Fisher was aggressive driving the ball at times again tonight. All three of his made field goals came inside the arc. I’ll continue to say it. Keep doing that, Fish.
  • This place was empty tonight. The Thunder has evolved into one of the biggest road draws in the league. But apparently Milwaukee has better things to do.
  • What’s a Thunder blowout without the obligatory Cole Aldrich monster dunk? He got it again tonight.
  • Up next. At home against the Clippers on Wednesday.


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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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