Milwaukee Bucks: Grades from 98-94 Win Over Oklahoma City Thunder

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks opened the New Year with an impressive win in a closely contested game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

VS.

1 2 3 4 T
Bucks 22 28 29 19 98
Thunder 30 26 16 22 94

After an impressive showing on New Year’s Eve in Chicago, the Milwaukee Bucks finally managed to break out of their growing trend of alternating wins and losses with a solid win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Back home after a four-game road trip, the Bucks started slow as they’ve been prone to do throughout the season, but showed the resolve and confidence to come back and play their own game.

For a young team, eking out close wins is both important and difficult, and in doing so against a star of Russell Westbrook’s caliber, the Bucks should get a timely confidence boost.

With their immediate schedule featuring a number of winnable games, the Bucks have a chance to kick on and solidify their early season promise, and look well-equipped to do so.

Before looking to the future, though, let’s reflect on another important win. How did the Bucks grade on the night?

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Starters

Malcolm Brogdon

G, Milwaukee Bucks

B

Not Malcolm Brogdon’s best night and certainly not comparable to his triple-double showing against the Bulls on New Year’s Eve, but the rookie once again showed he has the kind of mettle that has not only made him an instant contributor in the NBA, but will ensure he’s an impact maker for years to come. Brogdon struggled with his shot, but had five assists to only two turnovers and made two critical free throws at the end to seal the win.

Tony Snell

G, Milwaukee Bucks

B+

Tony Snell had one of his worst games of late if it was to be measured purely by box score contribution, but in reality he made some of the most important plays of the game for the Bucks. Although the decision for him to be asked to do so is certainly questionable, Snell performed exceptionally well matched up on Russell Westbrook defensively for the majority of the contest. At a time when it’s gotten harder and harder to deny Westbrook his numbers, Snell held Westbrook to 32 percent from the field on a night where he failed to live up to his triple-double average. Not only that, Snell forced the pivotal deflection late on and that led to Westbrook’s final decisive turnover. Not a flashy night, but Snell did a lot of the little things right.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

G/F, Milwaukee Bucks

A

As has developed into the norm, Giannis bossed the Bucks from pillar to post in this one. They go as he goes for the most part, and luckily for the Bucks, the Greek Freak is on form most of the time. He continued to show new wrinkles to his game with a beautiful high fadeaway late on. He also rebounded dominantly, found his teammates with flashy and simple passes alike, and ultimately delivered a win that would have meant as much to him as any fan of the team. The All-Star push continues.

Jabari Parker

F, Milwaukee Bucks

B+

A late turnover from a moment that might have just given us a glimpse of some overconfidence could have proven costly, but with a win secured it seems more important than ever to reflect that Jabari Parker has reached a point where his confidence is sky high to begin with. He struggled a little from the field as his mid-range jumper didn’t fall as it had been recently, but he continued to drop threes, going 2-4 from deep. His physical, bully-ball style continued to be successful, while we even got a nice block for good measure. Not his best, but ultimately still a good night.

John Henson

C, Milwaukee Bucks

B

It’s the story of John Henson. After impressing in his starting role, he experiences a sudden drop-off, has a bad week and fan sentiment turns against him. Henson is inconsistent, and with that, the next surprisingly positive performance is always just around the corner. Well, it surfaced on Monday. Hook made some important shots, scoring 12 points on 6-7 from the field. He also had some nice interchanges as he saw his first minutes of the season alongside Greg Monroe in a big-big pairing. Henson helped the Bucks to a win on this occasion, it’s as simple as that.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bench

Greg Monroe

C, Milwaukee Bucks

B+

Moose brought out some beautiful spin moves, displayed his high IQ passing and generally turned in a very effective and efficient performance. He didn’t play quite the heavy minutes load he ended up with against the Bulls, but 15 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench is a nice return by anyone’s measure.

Mirza Teletovic

F, Milwaukee Bucks

B

A solid night from Mirza when to the surprise of everyone he even dropped in a couple of assists. Primarily, Teletovic is here for shooting though, and shoot he did. Telly made a couple of triples, including one of the most casual and deepest threes you’ll likely see all year. That’s the kind of body blow that hurts your opponent as the shot clock winds down, and it helped the Bucks to claw back an early deficit in this case.

Jason Terry

G, Milwaukee Bucks

B-

Terry played well in this one, as well as being in peak hype man mode. In between getting the crowd fired up and exchanging high fives with owner Marc Lasry, Terry made a nice triple and dished out three assists to his teammates. Never one to go quiet, his vocal presence noticably helps the Bucks when he’s on the floor.

Michael Beasley

F, Milwaukee Bucks

C+

A quieter night than we usually see from Beas following on from his mysterious DNP against the Bulls. Still, he knocked down a tough long two when called upon late on, and on a night where he only attempted two field goals, he grabbed a solid four rebounds in just 10 minutes of action.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach

Jason Kidd

Coach, Milwaukee Bucks

A-

This was a good night for Jason Kidd. I’m still not entirely convinced if having Tony Snell take Westbrook and Brogdon cover Oladipo would be the best move in this matchup on a regular basis, but on this occasion it paid off big for Kidd. Snell made a decisive defensive play on Westbrook late on, and perhaps fresh from not having to guard one of the leading MVP candidates for the entire game, rookie Malcolm Brogdon was able to step up and make two crucial free throws. It could be argued that he left Giannis sitting for too long to start the fourth, but on a night when the Greek played over 41 minutes he had to rest him at some point. Ultimately, it seemed as if he did a better job of choosing the moments to give Giannis respite than his counterpart Billy Donovan did with Russell Westbrook.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Opposition

Oklahoma City Thunder

Northwest, 21-14

C+

The Thunder really did about as well as they can do on a night when Russell Westbrook was horribly inefficient. They did a great job of going to Steven Adams early on to exploit some of Milwaukee’s weaknesses inside, and that ensured a fast start from the field. As the game progressed they moved away from that tact a little though, and were eventually beaten out by the better team on this occasion.

With the win Milwaukee moves above .500 to 17-16. The Bucks are now the sixth seed in the East, and will next be in action against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

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