Antetokounmpo’s 35 points lead Bucks past Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t contain his frustration after a subpar first half.

Somewhere between the court and the locker room, the Milwaukee Bucks star kicked — and destroyed — a sign with a Thunder logo that is part of a temporary barrier.

The reigning league MVP regretted his actions.

“You know, there’s no excuse there, and obviously I’ll try to pay for the sign, or I can trade you guys for the Bucks sign when you guys come to Milwaukee,” he said. “But there’s no excuse for that. But obviously, playing basketball is a lot of frustration and a lot of emotion, and obviously, moments like that happen.”

He channeled his fire in the second half. He scored 24 of his 35 points after the break to help the Milwaukee Bucks rally and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-119 yesterday.

His first half, by his standards, was forgettable. He scored 11 points on four-for-eight shooting and had six rebounds. Most important, the Thunder led by six.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nerlens Noel falls over Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo during the game. PHOTO: AP

“I wasn’t playing good basketball,” he said. “I wasn’t being as aggressive as I wanted.”

In the second half, he made nine of 11 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Thunder guard Chris Paul said it’s a challenge to defend a six-foot-11 player who can drive.

“You think ‘back up, back up,’ but by the time you keep backing up, he’s at the rim,” Paul said.

Eric Bledsoe added 25 points and nine assists for the Bucks, who have won five of six.Dennis Schroder scored 25 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 22 for the Thunder, who had won three straight home games.

The Thunder led by nine points early in the third quarter before Milwaukee rallied and led 87-80 heading into the fourth.

Oklahoma City’s Danilo Gallinari hit a three-pointer with 32.3 seconds left to tie the game at 114, but Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez made a three-pointer at the other end with 25.4 seconds remaining.

Gallinari missed a clean look at a three, then Milwaukee’s George Hill made two free throws with 10.5 seconds left to put the Bucks in control.

“We always fought back, and we didn’t shoot the ball the way we usually do, especially me,” Gallinari said. “It was a very good game. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it done.”