MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks made quick work of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 13 rebounds and Milwaukee surged to a 24-point lead in the second quarter in a 133-86 victory yesterday. The 47-point margin was the Bucks’ largest of the season — and the Thunder’s worst of the season.
“It feels good. It feels good seeing other guys going out there, playing hard and being up 40 points, sitting on the bench, relaxing, having fun,” Antetokounmpo said. “Everyone is smiling. Games like these are always the best games.
“We were extremely ready. We moved the ball. We were defending. We know that in the fourth quarter, they always come back to the game. We never relaxed.”
Chris Paul scored 18 points for Oklahoma City.
“We got a lot of really good looks, but our defence and our rebounding wasn’t much tonight,” Paul said. “It’s just an old-fashioned butt whooping.”
Both teams were without their second-leading scorers. Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton was a late scratch with a sore neck. An ankle injury kept Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari out.
Milwaukee surged to a 24-point lead in the second quarter behind 14 second-quarter points from Antetokounmpo, seven from Donte Divincenzo, who started in place of Middleton, and back-to-back three-pointers from Wesley Matthews.
A key moment occurred late in the second period.
With Milwaukee leading, 54-43, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer got a technical foul after approaching a referee during a timeout with 3:43 left in the quarter. That was moments after Eric Bledsoe was called for a charging foul that irked Budenholzer. After that, the Bucks went on a 17-4 run and led 71-47 at halftime.
“I just felt like we got a lot of stops and then it felt like the ball movement and the spacing and shooting just was really good,” Budenholzer said. “Kind of the marrying of good defence with good offence.”
Milwaukee outrebounded Oklahoma City, 67-36.
The Bucks made a season-high 21 three-pointers. The Thunder were six for 35 on three-pointers.
“Your offence dictates your transition defence and dictates how you can get set,” said Thunder coach Billy Donovan. “I don’t think we took bad shots. It’s the shot-fake drive instead of shooting it and getting in the rotation, maybe getting fouled, maybe getting a cleaner look. Those things could have been better.”