Thunder Battles to the End in Loss to the Bucks

Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter |

Game Recap: Thunder 119, Bucks 121

119 points, seven players in double figures and a season high 31 assists weren’t enough to lift the Thunder past the Bucks on Sunday. Overcoming a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter, the Thunder battled to the very end before falling to the Bucks by two in the final seconds.

Game Flow

The first quarter was largely back and forth. The Bucks were never ahead more than 3 points at a time. With 4 steals in the first quarter, the Thunder locked in on the defensive end holding the Bucks to 21 points in the first frame and ending on a 9-0 run going into the second with a three-point lead.

In the second quarter, Thunder center Mike Muscala found his stroke with two back-to-back threes to keep the Thunder above water. Bucks center Brook Lopez answered with two threes of his own to aid the Bucks in an 8-0 run to give them a lead with 8 minutes remaining in the 2nd. The Thunder then went on its own 14-6 run to close the 2nd quarter with the help of Mike Muscala who finished the half with 12 points on 4-7 from the 3-point line. The Thunder went into halftime with 56-50 advantage.

Offensive tempo slowed significantly for the Thunder coming out of the 3rd quarter. Empty possessions for the Thunder left the door open for the Bucks to make a comeback. The Bucks took advantage with a 9-0 run to start the 3rd to tie the ball game up at 63 with eight and a half minutes remaining in the quarter. Eleven points from Eric Bledsoe who went a perfect 4-4 from the field (2-2 from 3pt) and 1-1 from the free-throw line and a surge from Giannis Antetokounmpo who went off for nine points and five rebounds gave the Bucks considerable momentum offensively in the third frame.

In the 4th, the Thunder found itself down 13 with 6:21 remaining in the game. A dunk by Danilo Gallinari and two back-to-back three pointers from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave the Thunder offense some life with five minutes left in the game. The action mounted with less than a minute remaining on the clock when a five-second violation on an inbounds gave the Thunder possession under the basket with only a three-point deficit. Danilo Gallinari made a three to tie the game only for Brook Lopez to immediately answer with a three on the other end to put the Bucks back ahead and seal the deal. A missed three from the Thunder on the other end forced the team in Sunset to foul finishing the game 119-121.

Antetokounmpo led all scorers with a dominating 35-point, 16 rebound performance. For the Thunder, it was the lightning-quick point guard off the bench who lead all scorers ­– Dennis Schröder with 25 points.

“I thought our guys battled and competed for the entire game,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “In terms of our team, and the way we battled and played everybody that was out there, as a coach, you couldn’t ask anything more from those guys.”
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Decisive Moments

The score was knotted at 117 with 25.4 seconds remaining in the game. Antetokounmpo caught the ball in the back court and began to accelerate across the half court line. Gaining a full head of steam, he was met with a wall of Thunder defenders forcing him to leave his feet and make a relief pass to an open Brook Lopez at the top of the key. Lopez knocked down the three with 24 seconds remaining on the clock giving the Bucks a 117-114 lead from which the Thunder couldn’t overcome.

Play of the Game

The Thunder had possession down 111-114 with 41 seconds left in the game. Danilo Gallinari caught the ball in the left corner, guarded by Antetokounmpo. After a screen from Chris Paul, Gallinari attacked middle and a bump from the Greek Freak sent Gallinari off balance and forced to retreat beyond the arc. Antetokounmpo left his hands down for a fraction of a second, just enough daylight for Gallinari to let one fly at the top of the key. Nothing but net. Tie ball game.

Stat of the Night

31 For the second straight game, the Thunder have tallied 30 assists or more. With a season-high 31 assists on 45 makes, the Thunder showed significant promise on the offensive end. Constant ball movement and player movement resulted in seven Thunder players scoring in double-digits.

“I give our guys a lot of credit for moving and cutting the way we tried to in the game, and the way we shared the ball,” said Coach Donovan. “That’s what we have to do, we have to be a team.”

Quotes of the Night

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander“We kept competing and never gave up. We have guys that can make shots on this team. No matter the deficit, we’re going to keep fighting.” –Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

“We had a lot of fight in us and that’s something we’re going to bring every night. That’s something that we try and make a guarantee for this team to bring it every night.”
-Danilo Gallinari

Looking Ahead

The Thunder will hit the road to take on the Pacers on Tuesday at 6 p.m.


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