OKLAHOMA CITY — While the rest of the teams in playoffs contention were still fighting for every win, the Oklahoma City Thunder used the final night of the regular season Wednesday as an opportunity to give its key players a little rest.
Playing the majority of the game with the team’s Developmental League standouts, the Thunder lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 95-89 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We put ourselves in this position to be in this position,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s the only reason (they) are getting off.”
For 81 games, the Thunder (60-22) fought and scrapped through the regular season. They did everything possible to earn the top seed in the Western Conference and made sure all teams had to come through the Thunder Dome if they plan to go to the NBA Finals. Their playoff run starts Sunday at home.
“Our guys love playing here,” Brooks said. “It’s a special place. It’s a great environment to coach in, to play in and to watch.”
The Bucks (38-44) had a different mentality heading into the contest. Even though they had the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs locked up, coach Jim Boylan didn’t like the way his team was heading into the postseason. Losers of five straight, he wanted them to get a little taste of success before facing the Miami Heat in the first round.
After trailing for three quarters, Milwaukee stormed back in the fourth quarter to take its first lead.
John Henson led the charge for the Bucks. The rookie owned the offensive glass and turned the rebounds into points as he gave his team a 12-point advantage with six minutes left.
He finished with 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting and 16 rebounds, eight on the offensive end.
“That is just effort,” Henson said. “On the offensive end, that’s just effort. Going after stuff you don’t think you can get. That’s what I was trying to do.”