MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 18, 2013

Slammin’ it shut: Thunder end regular season with loss, eye Houston in Round 1


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY — Needing to score 70 points to surpass New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant conceded the NBA scoring title and joined starting center Kendrick Perkins and key reserves Kevin Martin and Nick Collison in suits on the Oklahoma City Thunder bench in Wednesday’s regular season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Russell Westbrook extended the NBA’s longest active consecutive games played streak to 394 by playing the first 7 minutes, helping the Thunder score the game’s first seven points and build a 20-9 lead.

Then Bucks rookie John Henson used what was left to prove himself.

With starting center Larry Sanders nursing a troublesome back, Henson scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, Brandon Jennings had 17 points and the Bucks beat the Thunder 95-89 Wednesday night in a regular-season finale lacking any postseason implications.

Henson, the 14th pick in last year’s draft, came up with another huge game after getting 17 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks in an overtime loss at Orlando a week earlier.

“It means a lot. Guys got hurt down the stretch, so it’s my job as a professional in the NBA to come in and the level of play not go down,” Henson said. “That’s what I’ve just been trying to do.”

The Bucks didn’t pull ahead until Henson’s two-handed slam early in the fourth quarter, during a 27-6 run. He logged 44 minutes and made 11 of 19 shots, showing off a hook shot, and collecting eight offensive rebounds.

Reggie Jackson led Oklahoma City with a career-best 23 points. The Thunder were already locked into the top seed in the Western Conference and will open the playoffs at home Sunday against Houston.

Oklahoma City dropped to 34-7 at home and ended the season with 60 wins, the fourth-best total in franchise history.

“We’re good. I think the confidence is high,” starting guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We’ve been playing well lately. ... We’ve been there before but every postseason is different, so we’re just going to have to be real focused.”

The Bucks, who were assured of the East’s No. 8 seed, rested Sanders and fellow starter Ersan Ilyasova (wrist). They will play Sunday at defending champion Miami.

“We’ve got the best team, obviously the No. 1 seed in Miami,” Henson said. “We’ll go down there this weekend and try to play them tough.”





MILWAUKEE (95)

Udoh 1-3 2-4 4, Mbah a Moute 0-3 0-0 0, Henson 11-19 6-8 28, Jennings 6-14 0-0 17, Ellis 1-3 0-0 2, Dunleavy 5-11 2-3 14, Smith 3-8 0-0 7, Ayon 4-9 0-0 8, Redick 4-10 3-3 12, Daniels 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 36-85 13-18 95.

OKLAHOMA CITY (89)

Jones 7-15 0-1 14, Ibaka 4-6 0-0 8, Thabeet 2-2 0-0 4, Westbrook 2-5 0-0 4, Sefolosha 2-3 0-0 6, Lamb 6-21 1-1 13, Jackson 8-18 7-7 23, Orton 2-3 1-1 5, Brewer 1-5 0-0 2, Fisher 2-9 2-2 7, Liggins 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 37-89 12-14 89.

Milwaukee    21    24    23        27—95

Oklahoma City    30    21    19        19—89

3-Point Goals—Milwaukee 10-27 (Jennings 5-8, Dunleavy 2-6, Daniels 1-2, Smith 1-3, Redick 1-5, Mbah a Moute 0-1, Ellis 0-2), Oklahoma City 3-21 (Sefolosha 2-2, Fisher 1-5, Brewer 0-1, Liggins 0-1, Lamb 0-6, Jackson 0-6). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Milwaukee 61 (Henson 16), Oklahoma City 47 (Jones 9). Assists—Milwaukee 18 (Smith 5), Oklahoma City 16 (Jackson 5). Total Fouls—Milwaukee 11, Oklahoma City 14. Technicals—Milwaukee defensive three second. A—18,203 (18,203).