The third quarter in Milwaukee was sufficiently horrible — the Bucks dominated, 37-27 — to bring back unpleasant memories of last night in Minnesota. In fact, your friendly neighborhood cervids ran out to a five-point lead early in the fourth, which situation apparently made something click inside various Thunder heads. Oklahoma City promptly ran off ten straight points to invert the differential, followed by a 9-2 run; at the horn, it was 109-99, and radio guy Matt Pinto had already lost his voice. Allergies, he said.
That stellar final frame made for some nice-looking numbers on the box, like 53 percent shooting. Russell Westbrook, who stole the ball from Monta Ellis with 20 seconds left to finish the job, came up with a triple-double: 23 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists. Oh, and that was his third steal. Kevin Durant knocked down 30. Serge Ibaka (16 points) came up with eight blocks, moving him farther in front of Larry Sanders for the season blocking title. (Sanders, who posted a double-double — 12 points, 10 rebounds — had nary a swat.) Thirty-three points were coaxed out of the Thunder bench, with both Kevin Martin and Nick Collison in double figures, but the name to know was Derek Fisher. Yes, he made just one shot all night; but he bedeviled the Bucks something fierce in that fourth quarter. (Fisher was +12, second only to Durant’s +19.)
The Bucks did not shoot well — 38 percent — though they were pretty efficient from outside, nailing 12 of 29 treys. (The Thunder were a woeful 4-16.) Still, Ersan İlyasova was pretty close to On Fire, hitting 12-22 for 29 points and gathering 14 boards. Ekpe Udoh contributed a double-double from the bench. The real problem for Milwaukee, though, was that the Thunder pretty much shut down their starting guards: Ellis and Brandon Jennings went a combined 6-30 for 17 points.
Still, the Bucks, barring a miracle in Philadelphia, are going to the playoffs, where they will be butchered, frozen, and then thrown away by the Miami Heat. Maybe. Meanwhile, the Thunder have only two games next week, but they’re killers, and what’s more, they’re less than 24 hours apart: at home against San Antonio Thursday, and then a visit to the Pacers, currently #3 in the East. Much may be settled by next weekend.