May 24, 2024

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads Thunder 125-107 win over injury-plagued Bucks

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SHAI HIGH. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the charge for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 125-107 win over the injury-plagued Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night (Saturday, April 13, in the Philippines). OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 125-107 win over the injury-plagued Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night (Saturday, April 13, in the Philippines), further solidifying their push for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Leading the charge for the Thunder was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who showcased his scoring prowess with 23 points, igniting Oklahoma City’s hopes of clinching the coveted No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. 

The victory was a crucial step forward for the Thunder, who entered the night trailing the Denver Nuggets by one game and tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the conference standings with just two games remaining.

Despite the high stakes, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault remained focused on his team’s performance, emphasizing the importance of staying present and focused on the task at hand. Under Daigneault’s guidance, the Thunder have seen remarkable growth, increasing their win total by 16 games for the second consecutive year.

The Bucks, meanwhile, found themselves grappling with a depleted lineup, missing All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard due to injuries. 

Antetokounmpo’s absence for the rest of the regular season with a strained left calf had already been announced, while Lillard was sidelined with a sore left adductor. Despite their efforts, Milwaukee struggled to find their rhythm without their star players, falling to 4-4 in games without Antetokounmpo this season.

For Bucks coach Doc Rivers, the focus remained on prioritizing player health over playoff seeding, acknowledging the uncertainty of the standings. While a win could have secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for Milwaukee, Rivers remained pragmatic, recognizing that their seeding would ultimately determine their postseason schedule.

Chet Holmgren and Aaron Wiggins delivered standout performances for the Thunder, contributing 22 and 19 points, respectively, to bolster Oklahoma City’s offensive firepower. With a collective shooting percentage of 52.8% from the field, the Thunder demonstrated their efficiency on both ends of the court.

Despite a spirited effort from Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, who each scored 18 points for the Bucks, Milwaukee struggled to overcome Oklahoma City’s relentless attack. Trailing 69-52 at halftime, the Bucks faced an uphill battle against the Thunder’s offensive onslaught.

As the game progressed, Oklahoma City maintained its grip on the lead, entering the fourth quarter with a comfortable 95-81 advantage. With their fourth consecutive victory secured, the Thunder solidified their position as contenders in the fiercely competitive Western Conference playoff race, leaving their mark on the road to postseason glory.

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