OKLAHOMA CITY — The Thunder finally got one.
Justin Jackson scored a season-high 22 points and hit a critical 3-pointer in the final minute to help Oklahoma City overcome Giannis Antetokounmpo’s triple-double and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-109 on Sunday night.
With Milwaukee making a late push, Jackson hit a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds remaining to put the Thunder in control for good in just his second start of the season.
The Thunder had been nearing a breakthrough. During their recent three-game road trip, they lost back-to-back overtime games to the Los Angeles Lakers and dropped a two-point game to the Denver Nuggets.
“The only way you know how good you can be or how much you need to improve or where you need to improve is when you test yourself against the league’s best,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Milwaukee — we have high respect for them. They’re one of the league’s best, and we were able to improve as a result of being able to play them and compete with them tonight.”
Al Horford had 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Lu Dort scored 19 points and Darius Bazley added 18 for Oklahoma City. The Thunder won without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who sat out with a sprained left knee.
Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. Khris Middleton scored 23 points and Bobby Portis added 21 for the Bucks.
“Tonight, they were the team that wanted it more,” Middleton said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Milwaukee closed out its six-game road trip with three losses after starting with three wins.
“It felt like 12 days on the road — that’s what it felt like and that’s what it looked like,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, guys are tired playing every other day — the road trip started with a back to back. We haven’t had time to rest.”
Milwaukee missed 14 of its first 15 shots to start the second quarter, and the Thunder took advantage to lead 52-41 at halftime. Middleton scored 17 points in the first half for the Bucks on 7-for-10 shooting, but the rest of the team went 10-for-38. Dort scored 16 points in the first half for Oklahoma City.
“From the nine-minute mark in the first quarter to halftime, it was just an ugly game for us,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We just weren’t able to make enough plays — all of us.”
Milwaukee rallied and took the lead on a jumper by Portis late in the third quarter. The Bucks made 67% of their field goals in the third, and the game was tied at 81 heading into the fourth.
Consecutive buckets by Bazley and a 3-pointer by Jackson gave the Thunder a 101-93 lead midway through the final quarter, and Oklahoma City held on.
Daigneault was proud of the way the Thunder bounced back after falling behind 8-0 at the start.
“It was really just regrouping and refocusing everybody on what the blueprint was for the game on both ends of the floor,” he said. “We weren’t terrible the first few minutes, but against a team that good, you can’t be average or above average. You have to be great at it, and for the rest of the game, our execution was great.”
NOTES: Milwaukee scored the game's first eight points. ... Antetokounmpo had a double-double in the first half with 11 points and 11 rebounds. ... Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points. ... Guard Jrue Holiday was out because of health and safety protocols. ... The Bucks host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Milwaukee 24 17 40 28 — 109
Oklahoma City 24 28 29 33 — 114
MILWAUKEE — G.Antetokounmpo 10-18 3-3 24, Middleton 10-22 1-1 23, Lopez 1-4 0-0 2, DiVincenzo 6-10 0-2 17, Forbes 6-17 0-0 14, Craig 0-1 0-0 0, Portis 9-14 1-1 21, Augustin 0-3 1-2 1, Connaughton 3-8 0-0 7. Totals 45-97 6-9 109.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Bazley 8-13 0-0 18, Williams 4-8 2-3 10, Horford 8-16 2-2 20, Dort 6-13 4-9 19, Jackson 9-16 0-0 22, Miller 2-3 0-0 5, Roby 2-3 1-2 6, Muscala 3-7 0-0 8, Diallo 3-16 0-0 6. Totals 45-95 9-16 114.
3-point goals — M 13-38 (DiVincenzo 5-7, Portis 2-3, Middleton 2-7, Forbes 2-8, G.Antetokounmpo 1-3, Connaughton 1-5, Augustin 0-3), OC 15-36 (Jackson 4-4, Dort 3-8, Muscala 2-5, Bazley 2-7, Horford 2-7, Miller 1-2, Williams 0-2). Rebounds — M 47 (G.Antetokounmpo 17), OC 49 (Diallo 13). Assists — M 24 (G.Antetokounmpo 10), OC 32 (Horford 9). Total fouls — M 16, OC 14.
Social media buzzing after Giannis Antetokounmpo announces 5-year extension with Milwaukee Bucks
Light it up, light it up
Putting in work
Worth a 1,000 words
Just look at those moves!
Sure we have Rodgers, Braun and Yelich but man Giannis means everything and more to this state. He revitalized the city and brought life back into a dead end. We will forever be grateful for your presence. Now let’s get this ring #The414Way #TheGiannisWay 😤 https://t.co/0CIRV7G0Cy— O’ Sheehan Jr. (@misheehan68) December 15, 2020
How does Giannis signing the supermax impact the rest of the NBA? Also: @DarthAmin and I beg everyone to stop saying this is a victory for small-market teams, or proof the supermax works. This is proof that having a well-run, competitive organization works. Not bribes. pic.twitter.com/DL29clANJL— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) December 15, 2020
Not far off
Cry me a river
On his own terms
It's a Greek thing
An expert opinion
She's got a point
Ladies, if he didn't message to see how happy/excited you are that Giannis signed the supermax, then he isn't the one for you.— Alysa Z - Bango's Side Doe (@alysaz23) December 15, 2020
Turn back time
This is wild to go back in the time machine & read. For everyone who put into the NBA Karma bank in those old days & refused to give up. This afternoon had a little bit to give back to you. But seriously - Never Give up on your @bucks https://t.co/7S1AAyt85d— Andy Gorzalski (@AndyGorzalski) December 15, 2020
Making Dad proud
For as much as I enjoy what he’s done on a basketball court, this part of the Giannis story has always been what’s resonated most with me. It’s why I genuinely like the Antetokounmpo family. I only wish their dad were around to see what his boys have accomplished. https://t.co/xFEWf4TH5h— William®️🧐 (@MiltownBucky) December 15, 2020
Worth every penny— Vince Biegel (@VinceBiegel) December 15, 2020
Sending a statement
It’s such a relief that these Giannis rumors can finally be put to bed. It’s great that a small market was able to fend off the vultures & keep a marquee attraction. It’s even better that an MVP sees value in staying with the first organization to believe in him & let him shine.— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) December 15, 2020