MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and eight assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-85 on Friday night to snap a five-game skid.
The Bucks, who posted the NBA’s best regular-season record each of the last two seasons, avoided their first six-game losing streak since March 12-22, 2015. They hadn’t lost five straight since Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 in 2017.
Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks, while Lu Dort had 17 for the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s 85 points were the fewest by a Bucks opponent all season.
After trailing by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, Oklahoma City rallied in the final period and got the margin down to 83-76 on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s free throw with 5:26 left. Middleton answered by sinking a corner 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run, and the Bucks stayed ahead by double figures the rest of the way.
Milwaukee built that big lead with a dominant third-quarter performance.
The game was tied at 42-all before the Bucks went on an 18-0 run that started late in the second quarter and continued in the third. Milwaukee led 46-42 after a first half in which nobody ever pulled ahead by more than six points.
Milwaukee then scored the first 14 points of the third period. Antetokounmpo scored seven points during that stretch on a 3-pointer, a mid-range jumper and a dunk.
Dort finally stopped the run by making a pair of free throws with 8:07 left in the period, but Milwaukee responded by building the lead to 22. Oklahoma City didn’t make its first basket of the second half until Hamidou Diallo delivered a follow shot with 4:31 left in the third.
Oklahoma City has lost six of its last seven games, though its one win during that stretch was a 114-109 victory over the Bucks on Sunday.
D.J. Augustin scored 11 points and Bryn Forbes had 10 for the Bucks. Gilgeous-Alexander had 14 for Oklahoma City.
Thunder: Justin Jackson scored a season-high 22 points in Oklahoma City’s victory over the Bucks on Sunday, but he wasn’t much of a factor in the rematch with two points in six minutes. Jackson got more playing time Sunday because Oklahoma City was playing without Gilgeous-Alexander and Théo Maledon, who were both in the starting lineup Friday.
Bucks: Jrue Holiday missed a seventh straight game due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Reserve guard Jaylen Adams was unavailable Friday for the same reason. … Coach Mike Budenholzer made a slight adjustment to his lineup by giving veteran point guard Augustin his first start of the season. Augustin took the spot in the lineup that Forbes had been filling during Holiday’s absence. … Milwaukee recalled guard Sam Merrill from the NBA G League’s Memphis Hustle on Friday. The rookie second-round pick from Utah State was averaging 11.2 points, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals for the Hustle.
Thunder: Visit Cleveland on Sunday to end a three-game road trip.
Bucks: Host Sacramento on Sunday in the fourth of eight straight home games. The Bucks have won their last eight meetings with the Kings.