Thunder Rumbles Past Bucks, Creeps Closer To No. 8 Spot
Tuesday, December 9th 2014, 11:16 pm
The Milwaukee Bucks are no longer awful. The same can be said for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City (8-13) won its fifth game in six tries on Tuesday night as it took down the much-improved Bucks 114-101. Milwaukee entered Tuesday's contest at 11-11, a dramatic turnaround from last season when it started 11-47. One of those 11 was an 85-78 win against the Thunder back on Nov. 11.
Things have changed.
Kevin Durant made his home debut and put on a clinic. KD scored 23 points on 7-11 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists in just 29 minutes. Despite the MVP's performance, pesky Milwaukee insisted on making things difficult – at least early on.
The Bucks led by five through one quarter and even led 47-45 at the 5:09 mark of the second. But that's when Oklahoma City took off and never looked back. Russell Westbrook scored six of his 28 points as OKC bolted off on a 12-0 run and turned a two-point deficit into a 57-47 lead. OKC outscored Milwaukee 35-21 in the second and maintained a double-digit stiff arm through most of the rest of the game.
Reggie Jackson added 18 points and seven rebounds off the Thunder bench while Serge Ibaka chipped in 15 points on a flawless 5-5 shooting performance.
Tuesday was an encouraging sign for a team that has lacked consistency. Constant lineup changes along with the rash of injuries haven't allowed coach Scott Brooks to create any continuity with his lineups. But with Durant and Westbrook returning to form, it's only a matter of time until everything else falls into place.
“They still haven't played a lot of basketball, they've sat out quite a bit,” Brooks said of KD and Russ. “They're coming along just (how) we want. I like what both of them are doing.”
Specifically regarding Durant, Brooks said that it shouldn't be long until he's in game shape.
“His conditioning is improving,” Brooks said. “You can do so much with our strength and conditioning coaches, but the next step of the rehab is to get on the court and that's when you get in game shape. It's coming along; it's right where we want.”
The Thunder shot 50 percent to Milwaukee's 40 and outrebounded the Bucks 54-31. OKC also dominated in points in the paint (46-34) and fast-break points (25-3).
Oklahoma City will receive a solid barometer reading on Thursday night against LeBron James and the red-hot Cleveland Cavs. Cleveland has won eight straight games. With the Phoenix Suns' loss to Miami on Tuesday, OKC is now just three games out of a playoff spot.