First-qusrter score: Oklahoma City 14, Milwaukee 10. We had better quarters than that when I was in high school, and we played 8-minute quarters. It was 38-35 at the half, and Bucks center Larry Sanders was gone, having tried to tear Steven Adams’ face off. Inscrutably, the Thunder scored more points in the third quarter than in the first and second combined — and yet the Bucks, every time they looked utterly vanquished, put together decent-sized runs, usually involving O. J. Mayo and/or Luke Ridnour, to stay in it. (In that third quarter, they even took the lead a couple of times.) Milwaukee couldn’t sustain the pace in the fourth quarter, though, and the Thunder won it 101-85. Not often, I note, do you hit the century mark after a 14-point first quarter.
Serge Ibaka, for some reason, shines against the Deer: he picked up 17 points and 17 rebounds tonight, one of two Thunder double-doubles. (The other? Kevin Durant, with 33 points and ten boards.) The slumping reserves did not slump tonight: Jeremy Lamb knocked down 17 off the bench, and Derek Fisher added ten more. Even Thabo Sefolosha, who’s had trouble stuffing the net of late, came up with 14. Then again, Reggie Jackson went 1-8 for the night. Still, you have to be thrilled on any night when Kendrick Perkins gets more blocks than Ibaka — and Serge had his usual three.
Unsurprisingly, Mayo and Ridnour led Milwaukee in scoring, with 16 each. Only two starters made double figures, also guards: Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo, each with 13. (Antetokounmpo, I am told, is the youngest player in the NBA, having just turned 19 last month.) The Buck reserves actually outscored the starters, 43-42. And while radio guy Matt Pinto made a lot of noise about Milwaukee’s unexpected prowess beyond the arc, the Bucks ended up with 12 makes in 31 tries; the Thunder made 10 of 25, a couple of percentage points higher.
Weirdly, there’s no Sunday game this week. The next outing is Tuesday at Memphis, then to Houston on Thursday.