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Smear The Deer: Thunder Overcomes Slow Start To Drop Bucks

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Kevin Durant nearly recorded a triple double and Jeremy Lamb provided a spark off the bench as the Thunder pulled away and beat Milwaukee 101-85 on Saturday night. 

But don't be mistaken; this thing was ugly right off the bat.

In fact, it took Milwaukee more than five minutes to score its first basket. Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, that basket made it 4-2.

The Thunder was just as cold and was unable to take advantage of the Bucks' slow start.

The first quarter ended with OKC up 14-10 in what looked like a bad Big 10 game. The Thunder shot just 20 percent in the quarter while the Bucks shot only 23.8. Milwaukee was 0-7 from downtown and had only one starter score points (Giannis Antetokounm had four).

A scary moment came with 5:55 left in the half. While attempting to block a layup, Durant came down hard, violently slamming against the court. It took him almost a minute to get up, but when he did, the Chesapeake Arena crowd first took a big exhale, then cheered wildly.

Durant, who had six points with only one made shot to that point, immediately returned to the court and began to dominate. The Thunder's next possession down, Durant buried a 3-ball from the wing. Next time down, he swooped through the paint and dropped in a layup. Two possessions later, he stormed in and threw down a vicious jam.

Durant said afterward that his crashing to the court may have been the turning point of his night.

"That fall woke me up," Durant joked.  "One of my friends texted me after the game, said he dropped to his knees and prayed for me so I guess that helped too."

KD had awoken. His teammates — not so much.

The Thunder held a single-digit lead throughout the quarter, but the Bucks got hot just in time for the half, draining three straight 3-balls to end the second on a 9-0 run. The shooting spurt cut the Thunder's lead to 38-35 in what was a pretty forgettable half.

OKC turned it over 11 times in the half and shot just 28.6 percent. That included 3-12 from downtown. The half was riddled with sloppy play from both sides as the Bucks committed nine turnovers themselves.

Milwaukee brought the energy to the start of the third quarter, out-hustling Oklahoma City and actually taking a lead. The Bucks led 54-52 at the 5:26 mark of the third, but things were about to change in a hurry.

Lamb drained two 3-balls and added a layup as he vaulted OKC to an 11-2 run as the once-listless Thunder seized control of the game. OKC ended the third on a 10-1 run to take a commanding 77-62 lead.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks praised Lamb's clutch shooting and resiliency following a tough week.  

"Jeremy had a tough night a couple nights ago, but he bounced back," Brooks said. "A lot of times that's not easy to do, when you haven't been through a lot of experience in this league. He came back and gave us great energy and we needed it. We're seeing his growth right in front of our eyes."

The Thunder held an 81-64 lead with 10:55 to play in the game, but Milwaukee wasn't quite done yet. O.J. Mayo scored eight points in a row by himself as the Bucks exploded on an 11-0 run to come within seven at the 9:00 mark, but it was too little, too late. The Thunder settled back down and cruised to the win.

Durant finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Lamb finished with 17 points on 6-10 shooting, including 3-5 from downtown.  Serge Ibaka was also big for the Thunder, matching his 17 points with 17 rebounds.  

O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour scored 16 apiece to lead the Bucks, while Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo each scored 13.  Larry Sanders, widely regarded as one of the NBA's best young big men, didn't score in only seven minutes of action. He was charged with a "Flagrant 2" and ejected for elbowing Steven Adams in the head.  

The Thunder improves to 28-9 overall while the Bucks continue their quest for Jabari Parker, falling to 7-29.  Oklahoma City is back at it on Tuesday night in Memphis, then heads to Houston on Thursday.

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