Back to reality: Thunder 109 – Bucks 89
|Carlos Delfino, SF 32 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -16
When he wasn’t missing open threes with no one within five feet of him, he was attempting to guard Kevin Durant. Not an enviable defensive assignment. If Delfino isn’t making threes, he has become substantially less valuable this season than he was in the past two. He wasn’t completely hopeless on defense Monday, but he wasn’t above average either. He needs to be above average again.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -13
If ever he could have used a big center next to him, Monday was the night. He attempted to guard Kendrick Perkins on one possession. Perkins caught the ball in the post and in just a few dribbled had Ersan under the hoop and an easy layup. He couldn’t match-up physically with the Thunder front line, even if he had a nice shooting night from the field. He needed to be a compliment that caused problems on Monday, not a focal point in Andrew Bogut’s old role.
|Drew Gooden, PF 18 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -7
Gooden gave it his all, which wasn’t too much. He hobbled around, his back bothering him noticeably. He managed to hit a few jumpers and a three and give the Bucks a bit of scoring punch up front. He couldn’t help the Bucks much on the glass though, either on offense or defense. It was obvious early on that Perkins and Ibaka were going to be too much for him to handle given his health.
|Monta Ellis, SG 32 MIN | 3-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | -19
Shots didn’t go down for Ellis. If they don’t, he becomes infinitely less valuable. Sure, he distributed a bit, but if ever there was a night Milwaukee could have used a 30 point outing, it was against a terribly difficult to contain Thunder team.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 27 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -19
I’m not sure what Jennings did to Russell Westbrook, but the Oklahoma City point guard attacked him early, often and with great pleasure. He wouldn’t let up on Jennings, forcing the Bucks point guard to work hard to simply keep him from exploding on offense. Jennings turned extra aggressive on offense himself in the third, but he was no match for the Thunder point guard’s athleticism and edge on this night.
|Mike Dunleavy, SF 18 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 PTS | -11
His trademark shooting touch abandoned him when the lengthy Kevin Durant was the one chasing him around screens and forcing him to make quick decisions. Oklahoma City’s defense didn’t let him get free behind the arc and he was largely turned into a passer. He did well in that role, tallying five assists, but he wasn’t the multi-dimensional threat he is against a weaker bench when matched up with the Thunder.d
|Larry Sanders, C 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -9
After one of his finest games, Sanders struggled to produce. He fell victim to the Thunder’s sizable, physical and aggressive front line and fell victim to his emotions early in the fourth. He disputed a number of fouls called on him and earned the first ejection of his career. He’s since tweeted a picture that paints his complaint vividly.
Four Things We Saw
- Size mattered. The Thunder out-rebounded the Bucks 44-35 and out-shot them from the free throw line 25-13. The Thunder made more free throws (22) than the Bucks attempted. It was one of those nights. Oklahoma City got into the paint over and over and the Bucks were forced to foul. Milwaukee seemed taken aback by the Thunder’s size, strength and speed.
- Composure wasn’t so much the issues. Sure, the Bucks got five technical fouls, the most they’ve had in a game since 2001, but it wasn’t like the Bucks were sitting on the edge of coming back, playing well, playing hard and then let things slip away. Scott Skiles suspects his T will be rescinded by the league. The emotion in general didn’t excite Coach Skiles, but more because it was a bit too little too late.
“I’m not happy when we’re down 25 points and it (emotion) is displayed,” he said. “I’d like to see it displayed when the ball goes up.”
- Skiles felt like the Bucks may have been taken back a bit by the stark contrast in the Thunder’s talent versus the teams Milwaukee played last week. Milwaukee was down 33-12 at one point in the first quarter.
“We looked back on our heels, a little bit shell shocked,” he said. “They have length, they have athleticism, they have tremendous skill. Strength, speed, they have all the things you’d like to have to be a contending team.”
“Hopefully we’ll take something like that from it too. Look, we had a good week, we’ve had a good run, we’ve been 13-4 or whatever in our last 17 games. But, if you get too far from reality, things can go bad for you. The reality is, that team’s at a different level from us.”
- With the loss and an off day for both the Knicks and Sixers, Milwaukee falls a game and a half back of the final playoff spot that both New York and Philly are currently tied for.