BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
It was supposed to be the beginning of a return to grace with healthy bodies, but it turned out to just be another sloppy loss punctuated by emotional outbursts and a highly questionable ejection as the Warriors skid continued with a 116-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night at Oracle in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated.
With Kevin Durant and Draymond Green returning from injuries Golden State was playing an up-tempo game with a number of lead changes until the final two minutes of the first half. But after Giannis Antetokoumbo’s running dunk with 90 seconds remaining in the second quarter tied the score at 47, the Bucks scored the final 11 points of the half to take charge and never looked back.
Aided by a Warriors melt down and some shoddy officiating, the Bucks took a nine point lead into the locker room which would swell to as many as 23 before allowing the Warriors to close the gap in the fourth quarter after calling off the dogs. The turning point of the game was Durant’s ejection with just seconds remaining in the half.
Showing no significant signs of rust following his lay-off, Durant had scored ten points in 17 minutes of action, but it was his objection to a no call after clearly getting hacked by Antetokoumbo while driving the lane that ended his night prematurely and all but insured the Warriors third loss in a row at home. It was also their seventh loss in their last ten games overall and left Golden State with ten player ejections on the season, more then the team has had in the past ten years combined.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, asked about Durant’s ejection, simply said “I think he said the magic word. I think Kevin just had a moment. He was frustrated.” Kerr was more complimentary when asked about KD’s return to the lineup. “I thought he looked good and he was moving well. When you comeback after a layoff like that, it takes a little while to get your bearings. I thought he looked good physically. I thought he wasn’t quite there in terms of the speed and force of the game, but that will probably come next game.”
Durant for his part was more straightforward about the sudden end of his night. “I got fouled and I told him how I felt about it and he kicked me out. Pretty simple. I was feeling good out there. I was figuring things out. Definitely wanted to finish the game. That’s what I’m more upset about, that I didn’t finish the game. I wanted to play after being out a couple of weeks.”
Antetokoumbo led all scorers with 32 while Khris Middleton added 23 for Milwaukee. Eric Bledsoe also pumped in 20 as the Bucks shot 55.2 percent from the field. Quinn Cook, continuing to shine in Stepen Curry’s absence, netted a career high 30 for the Warriors on 12-of-15 shooting.
Golden State returns to the floor on Saturday night in Sacramento for a game against the Kings before starting April the following night when the Phoenix Suns, owners of the worst record in the NBA come to Oracle for a 5:30 tip-off.