By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
The Thunder pulled away late against a pesky Bucks team on Saturday night, winning 109-99 in Milwaukee. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Milwaukee dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half, outscoring the Thunder by 15 and holding a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Then Scott Brooks called a timeout. Then OKC rattled off one of the quickest 12-0 runs you’ll ever see. And then the Thunder rolled. In that quick game-changing spurt, Kevin Durant and Nick Collison both scored six points.
It was over when…
…The Thunder followed up that 12-0 run with a 7-0 one minutes later, capped off by a Kevin Durant 27-foot dagger and Russell Westbrook mid-range jumper. Suddenly a five-point deficit was an insurmountable 12-point cushion. In all, OKC outscored the Bucks 26-16 in the fourth quarter.
Star of the game – Russell Westbrook
Not one of Westbrook’s better shooting nights (6-of-18 from the field), but he controlled the game in every other aspect. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists (his sixth career triple-double and first of the season), while also spearheading a stifling perimeter defensive effort that helped hold Milwaukee scorers Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to a combined 6-of-30 shooting.
Unsung hero – Ersan Ilyasova
The Bucks wouldn’t normally be competitive in a game that Ellis and Jennings struggle so mightily. They feed off those two streaky shooting guards. But 6-foot-10 swingman Ersan Ilyasova (one of the most underrated players in the league) picked up the slack, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Thanks for at least making this one interesting, Ersan.
Stats of note
-Since February 1st, even with this win, OKC is 7-7 on the road. That’s a concern.
-The Thunder is 16-4 after losses this season.
-Monta Ellis (9 points) and Brandon Jennings (8 points) were both held to single-digits for the first time this season.
Ibaka was incredible defensively all night. Here’s two of his eight blocks:
GIF of the game
OKC gets an extended four-day break before a big one at home on Thursday against the Spurs. Major implications at the top of the Western Conference standings.