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Bucks’ fast start silences the Thunder

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McClatchy-Tribune
October 30, 2008
— Before the game, Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles said it may turn out to be the most exciting atmosphere that the Bucks will play in all season.

“And it’s only our second game,” he said.


The Ford Center was definitely electric Wednesday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder was playing its first regular-season game since relocating from Seattle, but it was the Bucks that fed off that energy in securing a 98-87 victory.


The Bucks jumped on the Thunder early, kept the hammer down all night and then held off a mild fourth-quarter rally in evening their record to 1-1. The Bucks were as good Wednesday as they were bad the night before in losing at Chicago.


“We were just hoping that if they were playing with a lot of emotion early in the game that we’d be able to weather it,” said Skiles. “ Sometimes these kinds of events can weigh on the home team a little bit also, and we were able to take advantage of it.


“Our overall effort (was good). We’ve played good in stretches but we haven’t sustained. Tonight, we sustained pretty much all the way through.”


Said forward Richard Jefferson, “This was one on those things where you try to not get too caught up in the moment with all the noise. Understanding that it’s just a game and just go and enjoy yourself. If anything, they might have been a little bit too pumped, and we might have capitalized on that in the first half. We did a very good job of approaching it like a game we needed to get before our home opener (Saturday).”


The Bucks got off to a great start, making eight of their first 12 shots and jumping out to an 18-7 lead. The Bucks wanted to pound the ball into center Andrew Bogut and he scored eight points in helping the Bucks to a 24-14 lead after one quarter. The Thunder shot 25 percent in the first quarter.


The Bucks got into the open court in the second quarter and pushed their lead to 39-21 with 4:25 left. The Bucks got 11 points each from Bogut and Michael Redd and led at halftime, 50-35.


The Bucks led by as many as 24 in the third quarter and held off the Thunder after it trimmed the lead to 11 in the fourth.


Redd, Jefferson, and forward Charlie Villanueva all scored 20 points for Milwaukee. Jefferson, Charlie Bell, and Redd did a nice job combining to hold Thunder guard/forward Kevin Durant, last season’s rookie of the year, to 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting.


“The difference was once that ball went up, we started playing,” said Villanueva. “We got after it. Our defense helped out a lot. Guys were making big shots and one thing we did very well was move the basketball. In the past, we’ll start out with good leads and let up. Tonight, we hung in there and kept fighting. We were poised and won the game.”


And, pointed out Jefferson, not a lot should have been made out of the loss to Chicago the night before.


“We did a better job (against the Thunder),” he said. “But an educated person should probably know that last night Chicago was the worst team for us to play. They know our plays better than us. They know coaches’ defensive schemes better than us. So they know how to attack. And they were really pumped to go against coach for the first game. There were a lot of things that weren’t going in our favor. We knew that and tonight came out and played with a lot of confidence.”



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