After falling behind by 22 factors, the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder placed on a comeback run in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks. A robust begin to the fourth quarter pulled the deficit to seven.
They wouldn’t get nearer, although, as Milwaukee Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton put the sport away and handed the Thunder a 98-85 loss.
In a recreation with little offense, the Thunder had been unable to supply with all three of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon and Al Horford within the lineup for the primary time since Feb. 1.
Gilgeous-Alexander completed with 14 factors on 3-for-12 capturing. 5 Thunder gamers scored no less than 10, however Lu Dort’s 17 factors on 6-for-16 capturing was the very best output on the workforce.
Antetokounmpo had one other monster recreation, ending with 29 factors, 19 rebounds and eight assists, whereas Middleton offered 20 factors and eight rebounds.
Oklahoma Metropolis’s protection was very robust, however the offense couldn’t match the output.
The Thunder protection was on
The Bucks entered the evening averaging greater than 119 factors per recreation, the second-most within the NBA behind solely the Brooklyn Nets. For the second time in every week, the Thunder held them properly under this quantity. On Sunday, Milwaukee posted 109 within the Thunder’s five-point victory. On Friday, regardless of the OKC loss, the Bucks put up simply 98, the second-fewest they’ve all season (and one evening faraway from 96, their fewest of the season). “We actually upped our competitiveness and a focus to element,” head coach Mark Daigneault mentioned. “That’s a workforce that form of brings that out of you as a result of you recognize what they’re succesful in the event you don’t.” The Bucks had simply two fastbreak factors and 38 within the paint. They shot 40.7% from the sphere and 32.4% from 3. The Thunder had been very robust on that facet of the ball in opposition to one of many premier groups within the NBA. “I do see our group actually attempting to be dedicated on the defensive finish,” Horford mentioned. “We’re determining that we now have to have the ability to carry that each evening defensively. It’s not simple, however I do really feel like we’re having some development and we’re transferring in that route.”
The Thunder have created an expectation of comebacks
It felt like there was an air of inevitability when the Thunder went on a 16-3 run from the top of the third quarter by way of the primary five-plus minutes of the fourth quarter. Over the ultimate 33 seconds of the third, Lu Dort hit a layup and Isaiah Roby hit a 3. Hamidou Diallo completed an alley-oop off an Al Horford help to open the fourth. Diallo then assisted a Kenrich Williams bucket and a Horford bucket. When Theo Maledon hit a jumper off one other Diallo help with about seven minutes to play, the Thunder lower the deficit all the way down to 10. They bought it as shut as seven earlier than Antetokounmpo and Middleton scored a mixed seven straight factors to double the Bucks’ lead. “We had been a play or two from getting ourselves again within the recreation,” Daigneault mentioned. The Thunder could not battle again into it, however the truth that they chopped that 22-point deficit all the way down to single digits wasn’t shocking. It has develop into an expectation that the workforce will make the sport aggressive. “It is a signal of progress. we wish to be aggressive in each recreation. we wish to win each recreation,” Daigneault mentioned. “However extra importantly, we’re simply attempting to get higher.”
A number of causes for offensive struggles
The Thunder did not rating greater than 23 factors in a single quarter. Their 85 factors was second-fewest of the season. These offensive struggles appeared to stem from a mix of issues. First off, Milwaukee can nonetheless put collectively vicious defensive performances, even on this down stretch they’ve skilled. They contested properly and loaded up the center of the ground the place Oklahoma Metropolis likes to assault. “They defended and introduced that spotlight to element to the sport that made us earn every little thing on offense,” Daigneault mentioned. “They pressure you to accept jumpshots after they’re in that mode.” That particularly impacted Gilgrous-Alexander, whose largest power is driving to the rim and ending. He solely made three photographs on Friday and completed with 14 factors. Daigneault did not assume that this protection was the one motive Gilgeous-Alexander struggled, although. “He is had some success in opposition to comparable defenses,” Daigneault mentioned. “He is nonetheless getting his legs again beneath him, I believe, and his rhythm again. I did not assume he regarded like himself tonight. It is attainable that the entire workforce is attempting to recalibrate with their regular lineup. Gilgeous-Alexander, Maledon and Horford had been all within the lineup for the primary time since Feb. 1. After two and a half weeks with out all three — and at occasions taking part in with no guard — the workforce is adjusting again to a standard lineup that’s now solely lacking George Hill and the G League gamers. Even when it takes a pair video games for Gilgeous-Alexander to get again into kind, we have seen flashes of what he provides. The Thunder struggled to create offense in crunch time with out him over the past couple weeks, and his penetration within the fourth quarter on Friday led to seems to be that the Thunder could not persistently get with out him. Gilgeous-Alexander mentioned after the sport that his conditioning is not fairly regular, however he felt higher than he did in his return in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. “Only a dangerous evening. I missed a pair simple ones, missed a bunch of free throws, photographs that I normally make,” he mentioned. “I am not likely too anxious. Simply one in every of them nights and I’ll be higher for subsequent recreation.” This publish initially appeared on OKCThunderWire. Observe us on Fb!