4 Quarters: Thunder vs. Bucks
By Addam Francisco, Senior Writer
Bucks lead 30-27.
Keyword(s): Paul George | Defense?
There were definitely positives and negatives to the opening quarter of the Thunder’s last preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Surely for Thunder fans, it was a welcoming sight to see Paul George playing at a high level, knocking down shots and appearing to be a lot more fluid and swift in his offensive game.
OKC’s defense struggled through the majority of the opening quarter. The Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon and Tyler Zeller combined for 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, as well as 4-of-5 from three, which was the most detrimental for Oklahoma City.
Thunder lead 55-48
As the offense became less flashy with the second team playing the majority of the second quarter, OKC’s defense improved. The hustle is what paid off for OKC’s defense and as the starters filtered back onto the court, they kept up the momentum. Hamidou Diallo is one player that stuck out. In the first half, he played like he’s not content with merely being a rotation player. He wants that starting shooting guard spot.
It would be nice to see Steven Adams play a little more aggressively on the offensive end of the court. Four points on four shots aren’t acceptable for a starting center, against a much lesser defender. Along with Adams, Dennis Schröder wasn’t very impressive either in the opening half, scoring a very inefficient 8 points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Thunder lead 79-72
Keyword(s): Diallo | Bench
With the Thunder A-list on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, the court was open for Diallo to shine…and he didn’t disappoint. While maintaining his energy defensively from the first half, he decided to display what he can do on the offensive end, as well as at least periodically silencing critics saying he can’t shoot the ball. He scored 12 points in the third quarter and did it in efficient fashion, shooting 5-8 during the period.
Led by Diallo, OKC’s bench unit actually increased the lead for the majority of the quarter, until the final three minutes when the Bucks went on a minor run. Still, the Thunder broke even and maintained their halftime lead of 7.
Tie game: 107-107.
Keyword(s): Lack of defense | Clutch defense
It was inevitable, but as the Thunder went deeper into their bench, their defense lacked. Not only did they give up 32 points in the final quarter, they nearly lost the game, which would have put a damper on an overall impressive showing.
When it mattered, though, OKC’s defense stepped it up. Two-straight forced turnovers in the final 40 seconds of the game essentially solidified the win for the Thunder….is what I would have said if Milwaukee’s Tim Frazier didn’t hit a buzzer-beater to tie the game up and send the last preseason game into overtime.
Not much to say, other than the Thunder held on in an overtime period of a pointless contest. Deonte Burton hit three 3-pointers to put the game in the bag for the Thunder and finished with 16 points on the night.
Thunder win: 119-115
Things really seemed to come together for the Thunder in the last preseason game before the regular season starts in exactly a week. There are still question marks about, specifically, how will the team adjust to Russell Westbrook’s return, presumably Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors? If the team checks that box, this will be an exciting season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leading scorers: Paul George: 26 points | Hamidou Diallo: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal | Deonte Burton: 16 points.