The Milwaukee Bucks have not yet formally clinched a playoff spot, though they remain two games over .500; a mere four games separate the fifth-place Deer from the tenth-place Hornets. And I really expected them to put up more of a fight tonight, especially with the Thunder stumbling of late. It didn’t happen. Oklahoma City utterly destroyed Milwaukee, 110-79, on a night when nobody looked at the score. It’s that triple-double thing that Russell Westbrook does. He’s done it forty-one times this season; the record for a single season is held by Oscar Robertson with, um, forty-one. And the Thunder have five games yet to go.
There have been detractors, those who have suggested that if Westbrook did a bit less work the rest of the team would step up and then some. Tonight might have been an illustration of that possibility: Westbrook scored only 12 points, tied with Taj Gibson and Alex Abrines (who was locker-room bound after a knee sprain) and behind Enes Kanter (17). Still, Westbrook had 13 rebounds and 13 assists. And for what it’s worth, which is plenty, the Thunder bench came up with 65 points, making it unnecessary for Westbrook to play more than 27 minutes, essential considering the Thunder has to play the Grizzlies. Tomorrow. In Memphis.
The Bucks’ bench also performed well, with 48 of Milwaukee’s 79 points; reserve Michael Beasley showed up with 14 points to lead the team. (The only starter in double figures was Giannis Antetokounmpo, with 11 points and 10 rebounds.) At 36 percent, the Bucks didn’t shoot well at all, and 18 tries from outside the three-point circle garnered only nine points.
Meanwhile, while the thought of a back-to-back ending in Memphis is none too comforting, the Grizzlies have been busy tonight also, in beautiful downtown San Antonio. At the end of regulation, it was Griz 84, Spurs 84. A few of us will urge Kawhi Leonard on.