Rookie Payne Shines As Thunder Beat Bucks

Tuesday, December 29th 2015, 10:55 pm
By: News 9

Defense, schmefense.

The Thunder didn’t play any on Tuesday but it didn’t matter against Milwaukee. Six Thunder players scored in double figures as Oklahoma City blew past the Bucks 131-123 at Chesapeake Arena.

Milwaukee came in averaging 96.3 points per game – good for 28th in the NBA. The Thunder entered with the NBA’s No. 2 offense at 107.9 points per game. A blowout on paper, perhaps, considering that the Bucks were also 20th in points allowed per game.

Milwaukee kept it close-ish, erasing a 17-point second-half deficit to get within two before the Thunder opened things back up.  

The Thunder’s defense, the undoubted weak spot on an otherwise championship-caliber roster, allowed the punchless Bucks to shoot a blistering 62.5 percent from 3-point range en route to a season high in points. Khris Middleton dropped 36, including 6 of 9 from deep, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 to go with 10 boards.

OKC had one of its most balanced efforts of the season. Russell Westbrook scored 27, Kevin Durant scored 26 and Enes Kanter scored 23 in just 22 minutes. Perhaps the game’s biggest surprise was rookie guard Cam Payne, who set a new career high with 16 points in 16 minutes. Payne shot 5 of 6 from the floor and committed no turnovers.

The big difference in this contest came from the line. OKC shot a remarkable 37 of 40, while the Bucks only attempted 22. 

The Thunder (22-10) improved to 15-4 inside Chesapeake Arena. The Bucks (12-21) continue to be one of the league’s biggest disappointments. OKC hosts Phoenix on New Year’s Eve.