Bucks hand Warriors first home loss
Over the past three-plus weeks, as they steamrolled through the early part of their schedule, the Warriors appeared poised to quash even the faintest of hopes for competitive balance in the NBA.
But in its 134-111 loss to the Bucks on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, Golden State shed its air of invincibility, showing that it is, in fact, beatable. With forward Draymond Green sidelined because of a sprained right foot and toe, the Warriors looked out of sorts on both sides of the court as they toiled to their biggest blowout since a 40-point defeat to Utah on April 10.
Unable to string together stops, Golden State was well behind Milwaukee by the time Warriors point guard Stephen Curry hobbled to the locker room late in the third quarter with a left adductor strain. His injury appeared to come several minutes earlier when he grimaced after attempting to block Eric Bledsoe’s lob pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Curry finished with 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting — including 0-for-4 from three-point range — to go with four fouls and two turnovers. Though no update was immediately available on his health, Curry is expected to have an MRI exam Friday.
“You’re always concerned for your teammates, but I’m sure he’ll be all right,” forward Jonas Jerebko said. “We’ve got a great training staff, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
After seeing its eight-game winning streak end, Golden State is forced to grapple with the fact that even one of the most loaded rosters in NBA history is vulnerable to injuries to key players. Though the injuries to Green or Curry don’t appear to be serious, the Warriors will be cautious with both All-Stars.
As Golden State awaits more details on the status of Green and Curry, it has plenty to glean from the video of Thursday’s drubbing. Gone was the team that had cruised to the Western Conference’s best record at 10-1. Without their emotional leader in Green on the floor, the Warriors were slow switching off screens and getting hands on Milwaukee’s top options.
To pour in a game-high 26 points, Bledsoe needed only 12 shots. Antetokounmpo made 10 of his 11 free-throw attempts and scored 13 of his 24 points in the decisive second quarter.
With Malcolm Brogdon (20 points), Khris Middleton (17 points) and Pat Connaughton (15 points) providing worthy complements, the Bucks shot 51.5 percent from the field, including 43-for-66 (65.2 percent) on two pointers. Perhaps most concerning to Golden State head coach Steve Kerr was that his team seemed to give up midway through the third quarter on a night it was out-rebounded 46-38.
“They shot a lot of free throws to start the game,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “They had a set defense, and I thought they did a great job of really guarding me, Steph and Klay (Thompson) with two guys. … They forced us to pass the ball to the other two guys in the game, and kind of threw us off on offense a bit.”
Added Kerr: “I think we got a little complacent. We won the last eight games, and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. It was just one of those nights.”
Durant wasn’t much better than Curry, missing nine of his 15 shots and committing six turnovers. The Warriors’ three available All-Stars — Curry, Durant and Thompson — finished with a combined plusminus of minus-82.
It all was a far cry from the joyful, cohesive brand of basketball Golden State had been playing.
The question now is whether Thursday’s dud was a one-night blip or a sign of something more worrisome. If Green or Curry have to miss extended time, will the Warriors rally together or wilt in the face of this season’s first bout of adversity?
“They came in and kicked our ass,” Jerebko said. “Hats off to them. We’ve got to get into the lab tomorrow and look at it. We’ll be fine.”
Stephen Curry, who left in the third quarter with an injury, reacts after being called for a foul against the Bucks.