BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
In their first meeting with one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this season, a lethargic effort by the Warriors led to 134-111 pasting by the Milwaukee Bucks in a match-up of the two highest scoring teams in the league Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
In one of the ugliest games of the Steve Kerr era, Golden State’s eight game winning streak was snapped as it was manhandled by the young Bucks. Milwaukee opened up a 13 point halftime lead that ballooned to as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter which was garbage time throughout.
The Warriors were only down three after the first quarter, but the absence of Draymond Green, out with a sprained toe, deprived the team of both their emotional leader and best defender. It was obvious early in the evening that Golden State might be in for a long night as their porous defense was exploited by the Bucks athleticism.
Things went from bad to worse when Steph Curry had to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. Curry suffered a left adductor strain and is scheduled to get an MRI tomorrow that will help determine his upcoming availability.
Milwaukee’s balanced effort was led by Eric Bledsoe who scored 26 points in just 26 minutes of action on 10-12 shooting from the field. Giannis Antetokounmpo put on another aerial exhibition above the rim and finished with 24, to go along with 9 rebounds, also in just 26 minutes on the floor. Malcolm Brogdon added 20, and Khris Middleton pitched in 17.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 24. Kevin Durant added 17 points and nine rebounds while Quinn Cook took advantage of his extended playing time once the game was out of hand to score 15 points off the bench.
After the game, Kerr rejected the notion that Green’s absence contributed to the loss. “I don’t think tonight had to do with Draymond honestly. It had to do with our overall focus. Draymond gives us everything that he does. All that fire and everything else, but when you come out with sort of mindless intent and you’re fouling, I think we had four fouls in the first two minutes and not executing, just talking quick shots against a really good team that’s hungry and on the rise, you are not going to fair very well.”
Kerr added, “Tonight was more about our approach. Sometimes you got to get hit in the mouth in this league to remind you how hard it is to win a game. I thought that’s what happened tonight. I think we got a little complacent. We won the last eight and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves and it was just one of those nights. It happens. It’s a long year. We played a great team that just lost two nights ago against Portland and they were hungry to get out there. I thought they played exceptionally well defensively and we didn’t execute well enough to generate any momentum and get our crowd into the game.”
Golden State returns to action on the Oracle court Saturday night for the finale of their five game home stand with a game against the Brooklyn Nets (5-6 going into a Friday night game in Denver). Tip-Off is scheduled for 5:30 pm.
Golden State’s 10-2 record this season is still the franchise’s second best record through 12 games to start a season. The 2015-16 team started out 24-0 to set an NBA record. Milwaukee’s 8-2 record entering the game was their best 10-game start since going 9-1 through the first 10 games of the 2001-02 season. It was the Bucks that ended the Warriors 24 game winning streak on December 12, 2015 in Milwaukee.
The Warriors came into the game leading the NBA with a scoring differential of + 13.7 points per game. Even after a 15 point loss in Portland on Tuesday night the Bucks are still second in the league at + 12.7.
Giannis Antetokounmpo came into the game averaging 25/13/5 for the season. Only three players in NBA history have been able to accomplish that over a full season, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.