Thunder fall in OT, earn No. 4 seed

BY foxsports • April 13, 2011

Michael Redd's run in Milwaukee may be over after more than a decade, but not without one last happy memory.

Redd sparked a last-ditch rally in regulation, Brandon Jennings scored 16 points and led the way in overtime and the Bucks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-106 Wednesday night to finish their season.

Redd becomes a free agent after spending all 11 of his years in the NBA with Milwaukee, which drafted him in the second round and watched him become an All-Star in 2004 and an Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. team in 2008.

''It was a deep loyalty and a deep love for the organization and the city of Milwaukee,'' Redd said. ''Free agency, you never know what happens. I'm not going to try to guess.

''We'll see what happens, but I've enjoyed my time here - the ups and the downs, through everything that we've been through. I wouldn't trade that for nothing.''

Russell Westbrook scored 20 points and Kevin Durant added 14 in a season-low 23 minutes as the Thunder gave their starters a lightened load with the playoffs looming. Oklahoma City will be the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference and open against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

''It is a little different. I think people were expecting us to be a 1 seed this year, from being an eighth seed (last year),'' said Durant, who won his second straight NBA scoring title with a 27.7-point average. ''So, we didn't quite make their expectations. We had a chance to get up as high as two. Things didn't work out for us, but I think we're in a good position. Having home-court advantage is always good.''

The Thunder came into the evening with a chance to get the No. 3 seed, but coach Scott Brooks decided to give his starters less minutes and let reserve Nick Collison sit out.

The starters built double-digit leads in both halves, and the bench gave them away late in both halves.

Jennings outscored the Thunder 8-2 in the final 2:21 of the game, hitting the go-ahead reverse layup with 56.8 seconds left and then hitting two free throws to put the game away.

Milwaukee finished the season 35-47 after making the playoffs last year.

''You can't take winning for granted,'' Jennings said. ''This makes you really appreciate when you win a game and actually shows you how hard it is to win a game.

''There are a lot of things I learned this year and we're going to come back stronger.''

Redd hit a 3-pointer to spark a 9-0 flurry in the final 86 seconds and send the game into overtime. He had missed most of the past two seasons after serious injuries to his left knee and didn't play this season until late March.

Redd called his return ''one of my proudest moments of my career,'' and said the past 2 1/2 weeks felt like a training camp.

''I'm just now getting into a rhythm, but now our season's over with,'' said Redd, who scored 11 points.

John Salmons finished with 15 points, Ersan Ilyasova scored 14 with nine rebounds and eight Bucks scored in double figures.

Oklahoma City's reserves let an 11-point lead slip away late in the first half, but Westbrook and Durant powered Oklahoma City back in front with an 18-5 push in the third quarter.

Durant got it going with a fast-break layup and Westbrook added eight points, finishing with a steal that led to a right-handed, fast-break dunk to put Oklahoma City up 66-55 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

Brooks kept his starters on the bench again for the whole fourth quarter, eventually using even the last player on the bench in the final few minutes.

The Bucks took advantage, with Redd's 3-pointer from the left wing starting the final rally. Salmons hit three free throws with 23.1 seconds left to tie it at 96, and Nazr Mohammed missed a shot from the free throw line in the final moments of regulation that could've given Oklahoma City the win.

The Thunder then missed a chance to tie the NBA record with a ninth overtime win this season.

''Well, that wasn't the way we wanted to finish up our regular season, with a loss at home. ... I'm disappointed but I'm excited about the opportunity that's ahead,'' Brooks said. ''I thought we had a very good season. We made a lot of improvements along the way.''

Notes: Before the game, Oklahoma City hung a banner commemorating its Northwest Division title in the rafters - fittingly in the northwest corner of the arena. Banners of the franchise's accomplishments in Seattle are not on display, so it's the first banner on display. ''That's the first one. Of course, we want to have some more up there,'' Durant said. ''But to have that up there is pretty cool, another steppingstone for us. Hopefully, we do bigger and better things.'' ... Referee Joe Crawford switched out the game ball for a backup late in the first quarter after both teams complained about it. Milwaukee made just five of 17 shots with the original ball. ... Thunder C Cole Aldrich was on the inactive list after being recalled from Tulsa of the NBA Development League prior to the game.

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