Durant scores 33 to lead Thunder past Bucks 101-85
- Article by: CLIFF BRUNT
- Associated Press
- January 11, 2014 - 11:20 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant did the expected.
And for a change, Oklahoma City's defense came along for the ride.
Durant scored 33 points, Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 17 rebounds and the Thunder snapped a two-game skid by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 101-85 Saturday night.
Oklahoma City was coming off two poor defensive efforts. On Tuesday, the Thunder let the Jazz shoot 59 percent from the field on their way to a 112-101 win. Two nights later, Denver led 89-66 after three quarters before holding on for a 101-88 win over the Thunder.
This time, the Thunder held the Bucks to 40 percent shooting and sent them to their fifth consecutive loss.
"All we wanted to focus on was defense," Durant said. "We told the guys before the game, 'Don't worry about making shots or missing shots, just worry about locking in on defense,' and I think they did a great job of that."
Durant took care of much of the offense, though much of his damage came after a hard fall. He went up to block a shot in the second quarter, hit the floor and remained there for a few minutes. He got up and walked to the bench on his own as the crowd's cheers broke a concerned silence. Moments later he made his first 3-pointer of the game. He made 7 of 9 shots from the field after the fall.
"That fall woke me up," said Durant, who missed his first eight shots from the field. "One of my friends texted me after the game and said as soon as I fell, he dropped to his knees and prayed for me. I guess that helped, too."
Jeremy Lamb added 17 points for the Thunder, who had lost four of six. Oklahoma City scored just 14 points in the first quarter and 38 in the first half before heating up and hitting 63 after the break.
O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour scored 16 points apiece and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13 points and 11 rebounds and five assists for the Bucks (7-29), who have the league's worst record.
Milwaukee coach Larry Drew was impressed with Antetokounmpo's effort. The 19-year-old was matched up with Durant for much of the night, and he bothered him early.
"I thought he took the challenge," Drew said. "It's great to put him in that situation so he can learn. He has to feel good about how he played tonight."
With the score tied at 54, Mayo was issued a technical foul for arguing with the officials. Durant made the free throw, then Lamb made a 3-pointer on the following possession. Lamb then made a layup to give the Thunder a 60-54 lead.
Oklahoma City rolled from there. Durant was fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter. He made all three free throws to give the Thunder a 77-62 lead. Durant scored 14 points in the period. It would have been worse had Brandon Knight not found his shooting stroke. Knight, held without a point in the first half, scored 11 of his 13 points in the third quarter. Oklahoma City made just 12 of 42 shots in the first half, but hit 13 of 24 in the third period.
"It got away in the third quarter," Drew said. "I thought defensively, we had some breakdowns."
Milwaukee didn't go away. Back-to-back 3s by Mayo cut Oklahoma City's lead to 81-72 and forced the Thunder to call timeout with 9:20 remaining. The Thunder regrouped and controlled the rest of the game. Durant and Ibaka left with 1:45 remaining and the Thunder leading 99-85.
Durant said it was good to be able to win ugly.
"It shows we can win different ways," he said. "We can play fast-paced, slow it down, win a sloppy game or a low-scoring game. Tonight, we didn't get down on ourselves and let it affect our defense. Everybody played hard."
NOTES: Milwaukee went scoreless for the final 5:09 of Friday night's 81-72 loss to Chicago and then missed its first 10 shots against Oklahoma City. ... The Thunder allowed 10 points in the first quarter, the fewest in a first quarter since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. It also was the fewest the Thunder have allowed in any quarter this season. ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he never addressed Durant or the team about the incident involving Durant's Twitter account. Durant has said his account was hacked on Thursday and a photo of him smoking a hookah was sent out without his knowledge. ... Milwaukee's Larry Sanders was ejected for elbowing Steven Adams.
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