OKLAHOMA CITY -- A block party filled the street with fans in blue Oklahoma City Thunder shirts. NBA commissioner David Stern walked to midcourt and welcomed the city to the league. A banner was unfurled with the team's new logo.
Then the ball was tipped off and the celebration promptly ended.
Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva each scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks gave Oklahoma City's sellout crowd little hope about by spoiling the Thunder's debut with a 98-87 win on Wednesday night.
The Bucks were in control from the start, taking their first double-digit lead by the midway point of the first quarter, and they gave the 19,136 in attendance little to cheer about until it was too late.
"We had to come out hitting. That was the whole goal tonight was to come out fast," Redd said. "We knew we were in a hostile environment."
Oklahoma City started 2-for-12 from the field and never led, falling behind 20-9 and then watching Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant come out of the game with early foul trouble.
Even when he returned, it didn't make a difference. Durant was held scoreless in the first half, and instead it was Redd that broke through first.
Coming off a 30-point performance a night earlier, Redd hit his first 3-pointer and then stole the ball from Durant for a fast-break layup during a 10-1 run that pushed the Bucks' lead to 39-21.
By then, any electricity from the crowd had been turned off.
"We were just hoping that if they were playing on a lot of emotion early in the game that we'd be able to weather it," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who got his first win with his new team. "And they were. I think that probably sometimes these kind of events can weigh on the home team a little bit also and we were able to take advantage of it."
Andrew Bogut added 14 points and Bell scored 11 for Milwaukee. Villanueva also had 12 rebounds.
"I thought the atmosphere was definitely great," Wilcox said. "We had a lot of fans here, fan support, and I think if we get that night in and night out, a lot of games that we struggle, down the stretch we will come out with."
The Thunder had too big of a deficit for their excitable crowd to really play a factor.
Jefferson, Redd and Villanueva each hit 3-pointers early in the second half as the Bucks had little trouble against a Thunder defense that was the fourth-worst in the league last season. The lead grew to 71-47 after Villanueva scored off the Bucks' fourth offensive rebound of the same possession and then he and Jefferson combined to hit four free throws.
Westbrook got Oklahoma City within 90-79 when he capped a 20-8 run with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 5:11 remaining, but Redd scored an easy layup underneath sparked a seven-point spurt that put the game away for Milwaukee.
"For one night at least, it came together well for us," Skiles said.
Johan Petro had the Thunder's first official shot with a missed jumper from the left wing, and Bogut made the first basket of the game, 39 seconds in. Earl Watson had Oklahoma City's first points on a layup 13 seconds later.
The Thunder had a hard act to follow. When the Hornets were displaced from New Orleans three years ago, they came through with an unexpected 93-67 rout of the Sacramento Kings in the first NBA game in Oklahoma City.
A repeat performance didn't happen after a contentious relocation out of Seattle by the SuperSonics.
"The excitement of opening night, I thought, caused our slow start offensively," Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We didn't play like we were capable of playing and that is a shame."
Gov. Brad Henry and former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer were among those joining Thunder chairman Clay Bennett in front row seats. ... Graham Colton, the quarterback on New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker's high school team in Oklahoma City, performed the national anthem. ... Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, who left the Sooners for an ill-fated stint at Indiana, is an assistant with the Bucks. ... Carlesimo said C Mouhamed Sene could be cleared by doctors Friday and be available to play Saturday at Houston.
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