Struggling Bucks Next Up For Thunder
By Randy Renner
The Thunder continue their four-game home stand tonight with the Milwaukee Bucks who've now lost 13 of their last 14 road games.
Milwaukee lost last night 103-93 in Dallas to the Mavericks so they will also be coming in here on the second night of a road back-to-back, something all four of the Thunder opponents on this home stand have in common.
Funny thing though the Thunder have started the first two games of this stretch like they were the tired team having to go out on the back end of a back-to-back. They never recovered in their loss to Chicago but did rally in the fourth quarter Sunday to beat Denver behind 11 fourth quarter points from backup center Enes Kanter.
"I just want to help my team win," said Kanter, whose game has flourished since arriving via trade from Utah last season. "It doesn't matter, off the bench, play one minute or 48. When I'm out there, coach tells me to bring energy and just go after rebounds and I'm just trying to do that."
Kanter has been a valuable contributor off the bench for Oklahoma City, averaging 11.7 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds. He is one of 13 players around the NBA averaging at least 3.0 offensive rebounds, but his 20.5 minutes per game are the fewest of that group.
"Enes did a great job of coming in and being aggressive and being strong in the paint," said Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who combined with Kevin Durant for 56 points and 22 assists as the Thunder shot a season-best 57.8 percent.
Kanter could have another big night tonight, especially on the offensive glass. The Bucks average giving up 11.7 offensive rebounds a game that's among the highest in the league.
Rebounding wasn't the issue for the Bucks, now 12-20 overall, last night in Dallas. They allowed only six offensive rebounds and amassed a whopping 52-34 edge on the boards but a slow-rotating defense contributed to their 10-point loss. If they are again slow on defense tonight the Thunder could easily take advantage of that too.
Milwaukee failed to force a first-half turnover against the Mavs and ended up with an NBA season-low four overall and were outscored 26-0 in points scored off turnovers, becoming the first team this season to be shutout in that stat.
The Bucks didn't help themselves defensively on the perimeter as the Mavs went 10-for-22 from 3-point range and the Bucks are now 1-13 when opponents hit at least 10 threes.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 this evening and you can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma. We'll have updates from today's shootaround on our Twitter feed page and updates from the arena beginning at about 4 o'clock.