By Connor MacKenzie @grandepadre94
Paul George continues to rise to the occasion when Oklahoma City has called his number. George was sensational erupting for 36 points on 12-21 shooting (8-12 from deep). He was 5-7 in the 4th Quarter, and hit timely buckets, including a nasty poster on fellow MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Thunder push their win streak to 5 games after a 118-112 victory over Milwaukee.
The Thunder hold yet another opponent to below 45 percent shooting.
The Thunder were able to come out aggressive and set the tone on their game plan against Giannis for the entire night. Giannis finished with a tough earned 27 points on 8-22 shooting and 18 rebounds. Giannis started 1-8 from the field, with his first basket coming in the 3rd Quarter from deep. Antetokounmpo was rejected 7 times tonight (career high) by a plethora of Thunder defenders. He found a surge of energy in the 4th that surely put Thunder fans on the edge of their seats when the lead that was once 19, dwindled down to 4 with just over 2 minutes left. A drive and dunk by Paul George, followed by a tightly contested 3 (also by George) ultimately kept the lead at two possessions for Oklahoma City til the final buzzer.
Credit to a cast of Thunder players in Jerami Grant, Nerlens Noel, and Steven Adams in containing Giannis for majority of the game. He simply got hot too late and the Thunder were able to prevail.
Russell Westbrook had an off shooting night, rare as of late, but simply continues to dominate multiple facets of the game rebounding and distributing for 13 boards and 11 dimes. Westbrook was 2-5 in the 4th (5-20 for the game) but played under control and found the open shooters.
Hot shooting from deep continues on this win streak for the Thunder as they were 16-32. The Thunder have shot roughly 40 percent over the last 11 games including tonight, steadily dispelling the chatter of being a poor shooting team. What cannot be expressed enough is how well the Thunder have been taking smart shots and looking for the extra pass. They are top 15 in offensive rating and top 5 in defensive rating, the last team to do accomplish that? The 2015 Golden State Warriors.
If there’s one bad feat about tonight’s contest: free throw shooting was quite poor after some steady improvement. The thunder shot 9-19 from the charity stripe while milwaukee was 19-28.
The Thunder were fortunate that Paul George has continued this hot stretch he’s on when the Bucks made their push in the back half of the 4th. They must continue to do a better job closing out on shooters, slashers to the basket and keeping the 3pt line air tight on the defensive end.
Oklahoma City maintained their possessions with 29 assists to 12 turnovers, nearly 3:1 TO ratio which is mind-boggling.
Milwaukee had 14 turnovers but to only 22 assists.
Oklahoma City used a kick in the butt from the Lakers on their home floor to ignite wins at Philadelphia, at home against Portland, New Orleans and now one of the top teams in the East. After surrendering an average of 130 PPG, the Thunder have held their last 5 opponents to 115 PPG.