jsonline.com photo: Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) drives around the Warriors’ Willie Cauley-Stein (2) with the help of a pick by Giannis Antetokounmpo
By Jerry Feitelberg
San Francisco- The Milwaukee Bucks landed in town Wednesday night to face the short-handed Golden State Warriors. The Bucks, behind the leagues’ MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, entered the game with the best record, 32-6, in the NBA.
They lost their last game to the San Antonio Spurs, and they were looking forward to a comfortable win over the team with the second-worst record, the Warriors. They managed to accomplish what they came for with a 107-98 victory over Golden State at Chase Center on Wednesday night.
The Warriors were still without D’Angelo Russell and Kevon Looney. Most people thought the Warriors would be a pushover for the Bucks. However, things happen in sports that defy conventional wisdom. The young Warriors fought the Bucks tooth and nail for the entire 48 minutes.
They did it with great defense. They just did not have enough offensive firepower to pull off the upset. They played hard and never quit. They continued to show improvement, especially on defense. They held the highest-scoring team in the league, the Bucks, to 40% from the floor.
The Warriors defense held the Bucks to 9-for 41 from beyond the three-point arc. They had trouble stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo. Everybody in the league has trouble stopping Giannis.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter. The quarter ended with the score 19-19. The Warriors played great defense, but they could not get the offense going.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. The Bucks did outscore the W’s 28-20, but the Warriors were still close. The half ended with Milwaukee leading 47-39.
Giannis and Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 11 and 13. The Warriors did not have a single player in double-figures. Alen Smailagic, the 19-year old rookie from Serbia, led the W’s with eight. Alec Burks had seven. The Bucks shot 34% from the floor. The Warriors were worse as they finished with just 30%.
In the second half, The Bucks offense perked up. The Warriors did not fold, and they kept pace with the Bucks. Milwaukee must have felt that the upstart Warriors could actually beat them. The Warriors cut the deficit to three 59-56.
It was at this point the Milwaukee went on a 13-3 run. The W’s Omari Spellman made two three-point shots to help close the gap to nine. The Bucks outscored the W’s 34-33 in the period and led 81-72 after three periods of action.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors held their own. Each team scored 26 points. The Warriors made several threes, and Ky Bowman lit up the arena with a steal and layup to bring the Warriors to within five 93-88.
There were about six minutes left to play. The Warriors then made three trips up the court and were stopped all three times. The Bucks increased the lead to 11, but the W’s kept coming back. They trailed 101-96 when Omari Spellman knocked down a three with about 1:45 left to play. The Warriors fouled Giannis in the hopes that he wouldn’t make the free throws. Giannis made enough to secure the win for the Bucks 107-98.
Game Notes and Stats- With the loss, the Warriors drop to 9-30. The Bucks improved to 33-6.
The Warriors had six players in double figures. Alec Burks led the club with 19 points. Alec made three threes. Glenn Robinson had 15, Damion Lee 15 and four threes, Omari Spellman 11. Spellman knocked down three threes. Willie Cauley-Stein had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Alen Smailagic, in just 11 minutes of play, scored a career-high 10 points. Draymond Green finished with five points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. The Warriors shot 38% from the floor.
The Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis finished the night with 30 points. Khris Middleton had 21. Brook Lopez 12, and Eric Bledsoe had 16.
In other news, the Warriors announced that they put Marquese Chriss on waivers. Chriss did not have a guaranteed contract. The Warriors needed to make room on the roster to sign Damion Lee to a full-season contract. Lee was a two-way player with the Warriors and the G-League team in Santa Cruz.
The Warriors meet the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night in LA at the Staples Center. The game will start at 7:30 pm.