The Oklahoma City Thunder traveled to Milwaukee on Tuesday night for a Halloween showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Despite Antetokounmpo leading the league in scoring and playing at an other-worldly level, the Thunder rode aggressive defense and a balanced attack to a 110-91 victory.
Paul George led the Thunder with 20 points, Carmelo Anthony chipped in 17, Russell Westbrook fell one assist shy of a triple-double, and Steven Adams added his third double-double in seven games. Antetokounmpo got his — he scored 28 points on 9/14 shooting — but was slowed by foul trouble and a swarming Thunder defense that effectively removed his teammates from the contest.
Full Highlights via NBA TV:
Oklahoma City moves to 4-3 ahead of Friday’s home game against the Celtics, and the team has won two straight in blowout fashion. Let’s get into some notes from tonight in Milwaukee.
Very much like Saturday against the Bulls, the Thunder offense was a team effort tonight versus the Bucks. The stat lines broke down as follows:
Paul George: 20 points, 8/17 FG, 4/8 3P
Carmelo Anthony: 17 points, 6/14 FG, 1/3 3P
Jerami Grant: 17 points, 5/9 FG
Steven Adams: 14 points, 11 rebounds, 7/10 FG
Russell Westbrook: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 5/12 FG
Any night the Thunder gets five guys into double-figures, things are likely going OKC’s way. While Jerami Grant scored 11 of his 17 points in fourth quarter garbage time, it was still an evenly distributed approach on offense and easily the best the Thunder has performed so far in this young season.
Thunder FG%: 49 Percent
Thunder 3P%: 43 Percent
Thunder FT%: 85 Percent
That will do.
“Slowing Down” Giannis
The goal of the Thunder defense tonight was to bend to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s abilities, but not break against his teammates. He contributed a healthy stat line of 28 points and 8 rebounds, but that’s about where it stopped for the Bucks. No other player reached double-digit scoring for Milwaukee, and the other four Bucks starters combined for 26 points.
While Antetokounmpo handled his business, he was slowed tremendously by foul trouble and annoying defense from Andre Roberson and others. There’s no way to completely stop the young man at this point, but slowing him while eliminating his teammates is a recipe for success.
The Thunder was up to the challenge tonight, and held a Milwaukee offense that came in averaging 104.5 points to just 91. Complete effort from an active and extremely formidable Thunder defense.
Not only did Andre Roberson take care of business defensively, he found a bit of rhythm on offense, as well. He scored 9 points on 3/7 shooting, hit 2/2 from the free throw line, and played with a confidence that hasn’t been apparent lately.
The most notable part of Roberson’s night came during his lone trip to the free throw line, when Bucks fans chanted “Air Ball Andre” as he shot.
After swishing them both, he canned a three-pointer shortly thereafter and forced the Bucks into a timeout. As he made his way to the bench, he blew the Milwaukee fans a kiss and, yes, that’s real swagger from Dre.
Love it. Dre’s best game thus far.
Notes & Highlights
- It was announced immediately before tip-off that OKC will not pick up next season’s team option on Josh Huestis. After logging 18 minutes per game over the last four contests, he was a no-show tonight until very late in the fourth quarter of a game that was long over. Might not be a great sign for his opportunities moving forward.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, Antetokounmpo scored 28 points on 64 percent shooting. The entire Bucks roster outside of him scored 63 points on 38 percent from the floor.
- Raymond Felton scored 9 points and dished out 6 assists in 19 minutes of action. This will be said over and over and over again, but the difference in the backup point guard situation compared to last season is incredible and invaluable.
- Patrick Patterson logged 24 minutes, scored 6 points on 2/2 from downtown, and wrapped up the night with his most comfortable/confident performance yet. He’s still rounding into shape, but the guy is going to make a massive difference for this team.
- Jerami Grant was the first man off the bench and contributed 17 points in 28 minutes. Most of his scoring came in garbage time, but he was finishing around the rim without doing all of the flailing. He’s far from perfect, but being in better control would go a long way.
- Alex Abrines was quiet again. He scored 6 points in 22 minutes — just hasn’t had the juice lately.
- OKC won the rebounding battle 46-31, and held a 38-32 advantage in paint points.
- The Thunder only scored 3 fast break points, which is incredible when you stop and think about it.
An early 16-0 Thunder run that blew it open:
Steven Adams highlights via NBA TV. All the lobs:
Russell Westbrook’s split-decision lefty dunk:
Back in action at home on Friday against the Boston Celtics. 8:30 PM CT tip on ESPN.