OKLAHOMA CITY — Riding its third two-game losing streak of the season, Oklahoma City was looking for a streak buster to get back in sync. Enter a struggling Milwaukee Buck's squad that's been fighting to just stay in games.
For 2 1/2 quarters, it looked like the Thunder's losing streak would be extended. But a third quarter scoring explosion propelled them to a 101-85 victory over the Bucks Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Even though forward Kevin Durant called it a sloppy game, he was still impressed with what his team was able to accomplish.
"It's very important to win games like this," Durant said. "It shows we can win different ways. We can play fast paced. We can slow it down. We can win a sloppy, low scoring game. We can win different ways."
The Bucks took a 54-52 advantage with 5:30 left in the third quarter as all of the energy had seemingly left the building.
But Oklahoma City (28-9) responded with a 25-8 run to close out the third quarter and settle the game back down at 77-62.
"We just had some breakdowns," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "For the most part of the game, we were on the money with defensive execution. But there was a moment in the game when we had too many breakdowns. Against a good team, you just can't do that."
Guard OJ Mayo caught fire in the fourth and got the Bucks to within six points, but they didn't have enough to get any closer. Durant, guard Jeremy Lamb and guard Derek Fisher pushed the lead back to double digits where it stayed.
Despite starting the night by making only one of his first 10 shots, Durant led all scorers with 33 points on 8-for-18 shooting from the field. He was 15-of-17 from the free throw line to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists. He has scored 30-plus points in four of his last five games.
"I am proud of Lambo (Lamb) and how he came out," Durant said. "He was struggling with his shot. He came out tonight super-aggressive. He ignited us a little bit off the bench."
"I was very excited to play against Durant," Antetokounmpo said. "We played hard. I think people can feel it and see that we played hard. We have to just keep trying."
Milwaukee was dealt a big blow midway through the second when center Larry Sanders was given a Flagrant 2 foul after throwing an elbow at center Steven Adams throat. His night ended with four rebounds, no points and one blocked shot.
"It is disturbing," Drew said of Sanders flagrant foul pattern. "He just has to be smarter. You can't get baited or seduced into that type of activity."
The biggest scare of the night came when Durant went up to block a shot and was unintentionally undercut by Guard Reggie Jackson.
After lying on the ground surrounded by teammates for several minutes, he went to the bench. He returned after the timeout and hit seven of his next nine shots.
"That fall woke me up," Durant said.
NOTES: Milwaukee inserted F Khris Middleton into starting in place of instead of G Luke Ridnour. Coach Larry Drew said he was matching up with the Oklahoma City's front line, but also looking to get his second year player more involved. "Before he came out of the starting lineup, he was playing well," Drew said. "He was doing some real good things for us. Coming off the bench, I think his numbers are down." ... Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant said he had been shooting too much the last few games. Coach Scott Brooks didn't agree. "The one thing I love about Kevin, he cares about his teammates,' " Brooks said. "He wants to make sure everybody is involved. Shooting too much? I wouldn't label him as a guy that's taken too many shots." ... Before the game, G Russell Westbrook stopped to talk to 85-year old Rose Thompson. Thompson is part of the "Wish of a Life Time" program and her senior wish was to attend her first-ever Thunder game.