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News » THUNDER 108, BUCKS 90 Melting under spotlight Cold second half leads to defeat

THUNDER 108, BUCKS 90 Melting under spotlight Cold second half leads to defeat

THUNDER 108, BUCKS 90  Melting under spotlight  Cold second half leads to defeat By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Oklahoma City, Okla. - Two young, improving teams found the national stage Friday night.

ESPN brought its cameras to the Ford Center to shed some light on Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings and Oklahoma City's sensational third-year pro, Kevin Durant.

But the Bucks failed to be ready for prime time as they melted down at the start of the third quarter en route to a 108-90 defeat. Oklahoma City went on a 17-0 run to open the quarter as the Bucks missed their first 13 shots after halftime.

"I thought at the start of the game and the start of the third we just got overwhelmed," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "They just drove the ball, dunked it and went wherever they wanted to go. And that spilled over to the offensive end."

The Bucks finished 1-3 on their weeklong trip against Western Conference teams.

Durant was sensational with 33 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Thunder (9-7), which opened a five-game homestand on an upbeat note before a sellout throng of 18,203.

Point guard Russell Westbrook added 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Jeff Green had 17 points for the Thunder.

Milwaukee (8-6) headed home for a tough Saturday night matchup against the Orlando Magic after a disappointing conclusion to their first extended road swing of the season.

Hakim Warrick and Carlos Delfino each had 15 points for the Bucks , and Luke Ridnour and Ersan Ilyasova had 13 apiece.

Jennings was 3 for 11 from the field and finished with 12 points, and Michael Redd was 3 for 9 and had eight points in a starting role, while playing 22 minutes.

"We couldn't make any shots," Jennings said. "We were getting open looks, but we just couldn't knock down any shots.

"I wasn't really looking to score that much in the first half. Nobody's just locking me down where I can't get where I need to get. I just need to start knocking down shots again."

But the Thunder dominated in the paint with a 48-28 advantage in points as Durant and Westbrook easily penetrated the Bucks defense.

"Westbrook penetrated on us at will," Skiles said. "We had a hard time staying in front of any of them. They were just straight-line driving us. We did a decent job of not letting Kevin catch it right where he wanted to, but once he caught it he just went right by us."

Skiles said the Thunder has improved with a young nucleus featuring Durant, Green and Westbrook.

"They're a young, very talented team," Skiles said. "Those young players are getting better, and they've been able to add some pieces. I would say they've played better defense.

"It takes time. Usually in the league you take your lumps for a while before you become more consistent. They're more consistent than they were."

The Bucks allowed the Thunder to shoot 50% in the first quarter as Oklahoma City grabbed a 31-26 lead.

Milwaukee stayed close behind the hot shooting of Delfino, who sank 5 of 6 attempts, including 3 for 3 from three-point range, for 13 points.

But the Bucks shot only 38.1% in the period, hitting 8 of 21 shots.

The Bucks trailed, 38-37, when they went on a 9-2 run sparked by four points from Ilyasova. The forward scored on a long two-pointer and also made a steal and dunk.

But Durant led the Thunder as it responded quickly to regain the lead. Durant found James Harden open for a corner three-pointer that gave Oklahoma City a 49-48 lead with 1:48 left in the half, and Nenad Krstic hit a hook shot.

Ridnour sank a jumper to cut the Bucks' deficit to 51-50 at halftime.

Oklahoma City started the third quarter with a 7-0 burst, highlighted by a thunderous dunk by Green in the face of Bucks center Dan Gadzuric.

But the run didn't stop there. It was extended to 17-0 as Oklahoma City grabbed a 68-50 lead.

Jennings finally awakened in the fourth quarter, scoring seven straight points to help the Bucks cut their deficit to 84-74 with 9:45 remaining.

But Thabo Sefolosha quickly helped Oklahoma City extend the lead again, hitting a three-pointer and a jumper. A rebound dunk by Durant gave the Thunder a 95-78 lead with 6:17 left, and Skiles put his reserves in the game.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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