MILWAUKEE (Wisconsin) • When National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City this summer, everybody expected the Thunder to be an offensive powerhouse.
But the Thunder (4-3) are starting to show that their defence is nothing to mess with either.
The Milwaukee Bucks (4-3) learnt that lesson the hard way on Tuesday night, shooting just 42.1 per cent while the Thunder got 20 points from George, 17 from Anthony and 12 from Westbrook in a 110-91 rout at the Bradley Centre.
"We all came - myself, Melo, other guys, Ray (Felton), Pat (Patterson) - we came from different situations, from different programmes, so defensively it was going to be different to start out," George told ESPN.
"But over time, we were going to figure it, start gaining momentum, start to figure out what we're going to be defensively."
Westbrook grabbed 10 rebounds and finished an assist shy of his fourth triple-double of the season.
Jeremi Grant finished with 17 points and Steven Adams notched his third double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Thunder shot 49.4 per cent, hit 12 of 28 three-pointers (42.9 per cent) and made 18 of 21 free throws.
The game was billed as a match-up between the reigning league Most Valuable Player Westbrook and the early-season front runner for the award, Giannis Antetokounmpo. But unlike the Bucks forward, Westbrook got plenty of help from his supporting cast.
Steals per game Oklahoma City are averaging, the best in the league.
Antetokounmpo finished with a team-high 28 points to lead the Bucks but failed to reach the 30-point mark for just the second time this season. "They just played better than us," he said. "They were more physical than us. We need to do a better job of being ready, especially against teams like OKC."
He drew his third foul just a minute into the second quarter and spent the next eight minutes on the bench. Milwaukee struggled to keep pace without him and fell behind by as many as 24 before going into half-time down 42-60.
The Thunder's big three outscored the Bucks in the opening half, combining for 48 points.
Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said: "We really moved the ball well and we generated high-quality shots."
The Thunder finished with six steals and lead the league with 11.5 per game. The side, who also forced 15 turnovers, are second in the NBA at 19.7 per game.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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