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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
Posted Jan 11 2014 2:03AM
After a couple of ugly shooting performances, the Oklahoma City Thunder may be another inaccurate evening away from enduring their longest losing streak in 11 months.
The NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks know a thing or two about throwing up bricks.
The Thunder look to avoid a third straight loss Saturday night when they host the Bucks, who are coming off their worst offensive performance in a season full of them.
Oklahoma City (27-9) has one of the league's best records, and its average of 105.3 points and 46.7 percent shooting are both among the NBA's top five.
The Thunder haven't looked remotely like a juggernaut lately, though, shooting 37.4 percent from the field while hitting 12 of 58 (20.7 percent) from beyond the arc in back-to-back losses.
They're coming off one of their worst offensive displays of the season in Thursday's 101-88 defeat at Denver. Oklahoma City connected on just 35.3 percent of its field goals, finishing 6 for 24 from long range after missing its first 10 attempts.
"We didn't get a lot of good looks offensively and we didn't move the ball well enough," coach Scott Brooks said. "We took a lot of tough shots and our timing wasn't where it needs to be and we missed a lot of 3s.
"Everything that happened is correctable, which is good. It's not that we had issues. The fact is, everything that we did wrong we can go back and get better."
If not, the Thunder could be headed for their first three-game slide since Feb. 12-20.
Durant leads the NBA with 29.5 points per game, and he's totaled 78 in his last two. However, he missed 16 of 20 shots from 3-point range after coming in as a 42.0 percent shooter from long distance.
Durant hit 3 of 5 from beyond the arc while scoring 24 points in a 92-79 win at Milwaukee (7-28) on Nov. 16, when the now-injured Russell Westbrook led the way with a game-high 26.
The Bucks shot 34.9 percent in that contest, a performance that only registers as the fifth-worst from the field this season for a team that's the NBA's worst at 42.1 percent.
Friday's visit from Chicago was the low point. Milwaukee shot 31.8 percent from the field, including 23.3 percent while scoring only 27 points after halftime in an 81-72 loss.
"We had some good looks but they just didn't fall for us," coach Larry Drew said. "We forced a couple down the stretch that probably weren't the best selection but going down the stretch, if you make plays you'll win if you don't, you won't win."
Oklahoma City has won four of the past six matchups with the Bucks, but all of those victories came on the road. The Thunder have actually dropped their past two home meetings with Milwaukee, though one was their April 17 regular-season finale as Durant rested.
The Bucks have dropped nine of 10 games against the Western Conference, averaging 87.0 points.
Brandon Knight leads the Bucks with 15.2 points per game, but he's coming off a 12-point, 5-of-21 shooting effort against the Bulls while missing all six 3-point attempts. Knight had averaged 21.7 points over his previous 10 games.
Knight averaged 10.7 points in three career meetings with the Thunder while with Detroit, but missed the November loss with a sore right hamstring.
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Video Highlights and Recap
Notebook: Thunder 101, Bucks 85
Randy Renner, for NBA.com
Posted Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:43 PM - Updated Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:43 PM
THE FACT: Thunder forward Serge Ibaka recorded his 16th double-double of the season tonight, that's one more than he had all of last season.
THE LEAD: The Oklahoma City Thunder played a great third quarter but were no better than so-so in the other three, still that was good enough to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 101-85.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 33 points. He also had 10 rebounds and seven assists. Ibaka finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds, three short of his career high. Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to score 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, bouncing back after a 1-for-12 night in Denver the game before.
Milwaukee had two starters and two bench players in double figures. O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour each came off the bench and got hot from beyond the arc. Both scored 16 points and each made four 3-pointers. Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13 points and so did Brandon Knight.
The Bucks came in averaging an NBA worst 42.1 percent shooting and were held to just 39.5 percent by OKC. The Thunder have struggled shooting the ball lately too and did again tonight, hitting just 40.7 percent.
QUOTABLE: "That was a shootout ... actually I thought our offense was much better in the second half. We haven't shot the ball well in the last three games but we finally got going in the second half and passing is what woke us up. Everyone was sharing the ball." -- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks
THE STAT: OKC shot 28.6 percent in the first half and 52.3 percent in the second half. The Thunder had seven assists and 11 turnovers in the first half and then 17 assists and seven turnovers in the second half.
TURNING POINT: The Thunder scored more points in the third quarter (39) than in the first half (38) and ended the quarter on a nice 25-8 run to finally take control of a game they appeared on the verge of squandering away.
QUOTABLE II: "Yeah it got away in the third quarter. I thought defensively we had some breakdowns and against a good team you just can't do that. Offensively our shot selection wasn't very good and we didn't move the ball very well." -- Bucks head coach Larry Drew
HOT: Ibaka had 12 rebounds in the first half ... Durant was 3-for-5 (14 points) in the third quarter ... Ibaka was 4-for-5 (nine points) in the third ... Knight was 5-for-8 (11 points) in the third quarter ... Lamb was 5-for-7 (12 points) in the second half.
NOT: The Bucks missed their last 11 shots last night against Chicago and they missed their first 10 tonight ... Milwaukee finished the quarter 5-for-21 (23.8) percent ... OKC was almost as bad going 2-for-10 to start the first quarter ... OKC finished it shooting 20 percent (4-for-20) ... Durant missed his first eight shots ... The teams combined to go 0-for-12 on threes in the first 12 minutes ... By halftime the Bucks were shooting 31.8 percent and OKC was at 28.6 percent.
INSIDE THE ARENA: The 133rd consecutive sellout inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Before the game Durant was presented with his KIA Western Conference Player of the Month Award for December.
GOOD MOVE: Both teams missed a lot of shots but the Thunder were more active on the boards out rebounding Milwaukee 58-40. The Thunder recorded 21 offensive rebounds and 27 second chance points.
BAD MOVE: After grabbing a rebound early in the first quarter Thunder center Kendrick Perkins took off on a fast break, sort of. By the time he reached the other end of the court the Bucks had caught up and he missed a layup. He appeared to never make a look to try to pass the ball.
BAD MOVE II: Bucks center Larry Sanders got tangled up with Thunder backup center Steven Adams and threw a couple of elbows. Both appeared to catch Adams. Sanders was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and then ejected. Adams refused to engage and simply walked away with a smile on his face.
ROOKIE WATCH: Adams played 11 minutes scoring one point and pulling down five rebounds.
NOTABLE: The 10 first quarter points allowed by the Thunder tonight is the fewest in a quarter since moving from Seattle ... The 10 points were also the fewest Milwaukee has scored in any quarter this season ... The 38 points OKC scored in the first half were the fewest this season ... Durant had his 20th 30-point game of the season (leads NBA).
UP NEXT: For the Bucks: Monday @ Toronto, Wednesday vs. Memphis, Saturday @ Houston. For the Thunder: Tuesday @ Memphis, Thursday @ Houston, Friday vs. Golden State.
MegaBucks Leaders of the Game
Quotes from Giannis
- On matching-up against Durant: "I was very excited to play against Durant; the thing that makes me most excited is just to play the game."
- On the game overall: "We played hard, I think people can feel it and see that we played hard. We have to just keep trying."
- On guarding Durant: "He’s one of the toughest players to defend, he’s 6’9” to 6’11” and he can shoot, handle the ball and he’s explosive. It’s very tough to defend him he can shoot the pull up jumper."
- On seeing results through the season: "I’m looking for results, it feels bad playing hard every night. We have to keep fighting and still play hard in the next game and just keep working at it. I hope we get a win in the next one."
Quotes from Coach Drew
- On the third quarter: "Yeah it got away in the third quarter. I thought defensively we had some breakdowns. For the most part of the game we were on the money as far as defensive execution. There was just a moment in the game where we had too many breakdowns. Against a good team you just cant do that. Part of it was our shot selection in the third quarter where we didn’t move the ball well. From an execution standpoint, we didn’t execute. We fall back in the fourth quarter. I was very proud of the way they played in the fourth quarter. I think we brought it within six, but then we had some bad offensive possessions. As I told our guys, in this building, a bad offensive possession is just as good as a turnover. So you have to be a little more selective with your shots. But we just weren’t able to overcome it."
- On Miroslav Raduuljica’s production: "He’s been very productive. When he’s in the game a lot of things happen. He knows how to throw his big body around down low. He positions himself very well and he’s a good finisher around the basket. And then he can make free throws. Defensively he’s hard to move. He has to get better in that regard, but he does a lot of positive things when he’s out on the floor. I thought last night in Chicago he did a good job. Tonight he did a good job and we just want him to continue to get better."
- On Giannis Antetokounmp’s energy and getting time on Durant: "I’m very thrilled. He played with a lot of energy. Playing in a building like this and playing a team like this you have to have energetic guys to compete with, and I thought from an energy standpoint, I thought he played with a tremendous amount of energy. He did a good job in rebounding and running the floor. He got to the basket and made some very athletic plays and athletic drives. I thought he played extremely well from an energy standpoint. You play against a guy like Durant, and I’m sure you’re thinking ‘how am I going to defend him on the other end.’ I thought he took the challenge. It’s great to put him in that situation so he can learn. He has to feel good about how he played tonight."