OKLAHOMA CITY — Riding its third two-game losing streak of the season, Oklahoma City was looking for a streak buster to get back in sync. Enter a struggling Milwaukee Bucks’ squad that’s been fighting to just stay in games.
For two and half quarters, it looked like the Thunder’s losing streak would be extended. But a third quarter scoring explosion propelled them to a 101-85 victory over the Bucks Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Even though Kevin Durant called it a sloppy game, he was still impressed with what his team was able to accomplish.
“It’s very important to win games like this,” Durant said. “It shows we can win different ways. We can play fast-paced. We can slow it down. We can win a sloppy, low scoring game. We can win different ways.”
The Bucks took a 54-52 advantage with 5:30 left in the third quarter as all of the energy had seemingly been sapped out of the building.
But Oklahoma City (28-9) responded with a 25-8 run to close out the third quarter and settle the game back down at 77-62.
“We just had some break downs,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “For the most part of the game, we were on the money with defensive execution. But there was a moment in the game when we had too many breakdowns. Against a good team, you just can’t do that.”
OJ Mayo caught fire in the fourth and got the Bucks to within six points of the Thunder. But they didn’t have enough to get any closer. Durant, Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher pushed the lead back to double digits where it stayed.
Despite starting the night by making only one of his first 10 shots, Durant led all scorers with 33 points on 8-for-18 shooting from the field. He was 15 of 17 from the free throw line to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists. He has scored 30-plus points in four of his last five games.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka added 17 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots. Lamb came off the bench to score 17 points. Guard Reggie Jackson was held to 2 points.
“I am proud of Lambo (Lamb) and how he came out,” Durant said. “He was struggling with his shot. He came out tonight super aggressive. He ignited us a little bit off the bench.”
Luke Ridnour and Mayo each scored 16 points for the Bucks (7-29). Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 13 points.
“I was very excited to play against Durant,” Anteokounmpo said. “We played hard. I think people can feel it and see that we played hard. We have to just keep trying.”
Milwaukee was dealt a big blow midway through the second quarter when center Larry Sanders was given a Flagrant 2 foul after throwing an elbow at center Steven Adams’ throat. His night ended with four rebounds, no points and one blocked shot.
“It is disturbing,” Drew said of Sanders’ flagrant foul pattern. “He just has to be smarter. You can’t get baited, or seduced into that type of activity.”
The biggest scare of the night came when Durant went up to block a shot and was unintentionally undercut by guard Reggie Jackson. After lying on the ground surrounded by teammates for several minutes he went to the bench. He returned after the timeout and hit seven of his next nine shots.
“That fall woke me up,” Durant said.
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