With the Oklahoma City Thunder making their lone national television appearance of the season, the Thunder failed to surmount to the limelight, falling 130-110. For the Thunder, the loss kept them blank in the win column, now down 0-2 thus far. In the case of the Bucks, they notched their first preseason victory after being stunned in their opener — they now sit at 1-1.
Mark Daigneault enlisted a new quintet of starters for Monday’s game placing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, and newcomer Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in for the tip. Milwaukee’s dynamic duo of Giannis Antentokounmpo and Khris Middleton blitzed the Thunder early as three Middleton threes and three Antetokounmpo layups posted twelve-consecutive team points. On the Thunder side, the offense was in search of a solution, trailing 8-0 to begin the contest, but two Lu Dort triples helped ease the tension, being down 15-8 by the first stoppage. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl made his presence felt immediately after the timeout, canning two consecutive triples before finding an open Darius Bazely on a dribble-drive, resulting in a top-of-the-key triple. The Thunder’s 9-5 spurt closed the gap to a single-possession deficit, but five straight from Milwaukee shut off the lights in a jiffy. Both sides engaged in an offensive war for the latter half of the period as constant help defense sparked a plethora of catch-and-shoot opportunities, while the Thunder’s lack of size had been exhausted by the Bucks. Neither side caught much footing heading into the final slew of possessions, but an 8-0 Milwaukee run, capped with a top-of-the-key buzzer beater from Jrue Holiday, posted the Bucks on a pedestal up 48-32. The firecracker of a frame saw the Bucks record a near-perfect outing from the floor, shooting 20-of-25 (80.0%) overall, highlighted by an 8-of-10 (80.0%) stretch from distance. For the Thunder, they shot a clean-cut 12-of-24 (50.0%) in the frame, sourcing their primary outlet to the three — honing in for a 7-of-13 (53.8%) clip. Lu Dort starred in the night’s infancy stages, starring in a catch-and-shoot role to tally 15 first-quarter points.
The Milwaukee Bucks stormed away in the opening portion of the second, shutting the Thunder down to twelve-consecutive misses through six minutes en route to a 20-1 run, and a 25-point lead. Oklahoma City’s flurry of guards slapped a temporary bandage on their woes as six Tre Mann points, including a swoop-and-score finger roll, paired with two Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stepbacks turned the half into a back-and-forth late, but the push came too far — faltering to a 37-point, 81-54 deficit at the buzzer.
Plagued by a 33 percent second quarter, the Thunder failed to scrap together a formidable offense through the first 24 minutes. Oklahoma City’s perimeter safe haven shriveled down the stretch as a lack of consistency led to a lump of empty sets. Lu Dort’s early 15-point storm bolstered to 19 by half with an efficient 7-of-11 (4-of-6 3pt FG) performance, but the line of defense weakened. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the only member to mark double-digits with 12 points while also dicing in 6 assists.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ 24-minutes of offensive dominance saw the boys in green shoot a red-hot ___ percent
Oklahoma City gunned out to two threes and a Darius Bazley driving layup to slice the hole below 20 points, but a Brook Lopez poster over MIke Muscala escalated the game above the boundary line. Josh Giddey conjoined with Mike Muscala for a mid-quarter stretch as a 21-foot Giddey pullup, and two Giddey-assisted Muscala jumpshots swung the pendulum in Oklahoma City’s direction. Though the Thunder failed to capitalize off of the newfound momentum, second-round selection Aaron Wiggins snuck into scorecard at the five-minute mark nailing a 26-foot trifecta that led to a timeout. The third quarter hosted a pair of swings as the Bucks made a jab to hit the century mark up 27, only for two Thunder threes from 27 and 29 feet, respectively, to dwindle the margin. By the end of the third quarter, Milwaukee stood on top 104-81.
Unlike the Thunder’s preseason opener, Mark Daigneault utilized the fourth quarter as an effort to further evaluate the bench depth. The fourth quarter led to Tre Mann draining his first professional three-point shot, D.J. Wilson’s first minutes as a Thunder, and Rob Edwards’ preseason debut — resulting in two left-wing threes in under a minute. Oklahoma City birthed a potential resurgence down 15 late, but time was not on their side — ultimately falling 130-110.
Oklahoma City saw drastic improvement from their opener on Sunday in recording 110 points, and the percentages back the sentiment as well. The Thunder shot 41-of-98 (41.8%) as a collective on Sunday, but their real prowess rested from beyond the arch, chucking at will to shoot 19-of-54 (35.2%) on the night.
The Thunder’s major downhill presented itself on the defensive side as the Bucks shot above fifty percent at all ranges shooting 51-of-94 (54.3%) as a whole, and 20-of-37 (54.1%) from downtown. As an additive, the Thunder’s lack of a frontcourt presence netted the Bucks 50 points in the paint. Milwaukee’s star grouping of Giannis and Khris Middleton barreled in 22 points while both placing 17 minutes a piece. However, even without the stars, the Bucks found double-digit performances from seven other members of the roster.
Lu Dort left his mark in Sunday’s contest as though the third-year guard was pulled for second-half play, he still managed to tally a team-high 19 points on a 7-of-11 (4-of-6 3pt FG) palate. The Arizona State alum showed signals of unconsciousness from distance motioning straight into his jumper post-pass. Dort’s original calling card for going undrafted centered around his shooting ability, but through two preseason games, his shot has been his strongest suit.
Ty Jerome made the most out of his bench role slicing in 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists off of the bench. Jerome dished in a pair of threes throughout the night, but his real source of income had surfaced in his slashing ability, nailing all five trips to the stripe.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a much improved performance Sunday placing 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting while also dishing out 6 assists. The 23-year-old looked to have shed his rust as the offense moved at a much more fluid pace with Gilgeous-Alexander at the helm, keeping him blank in the turnover column. SGA kept the defense guessing, taking half of his shots at the perimeter, but he stood his ground around the cup as well.
Josh Giddey celebrated his 19th birthday without the gift of a win, however, he did have some individual moments. Giddey flirted with triple-double territory, spewing out 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists through 26 minutes, sinking 3-of-4 free throws. Giddey’s navigation to the paint came with a lot more speed bumps as the paint had essentially been locked off, but his on-ball wisdom made for a flurry of rifle passes with the grace of zero turnovers.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had a murky performance shooting a paltry 2-of-11, but the forward did show promise in the pick-and-pop department. Robinson-Earl jumped out of the gate with two triples, but a shotty ending slipped his total to 2-of-8 on the night. The second-round pick did an excellent job in electing to pop, drive, or pass off of high-ball screens, showing zero signs of indecision in doing so.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will continue their conquest for victory on Wednesday as they will face the Denver Nuggets at the Paycom Center.