MILWAUKEE — Everything lined up for the Milwaukee Bucks to spring a big upset Tuesday night — Golden State’s two leading scorers were cold from the field and the Warriors coasted to the finish line.
But the Bucks were blown out by 21 points, coming out flat to start the second half in a 101-80 loss to the Warriors in Andrew Bogut’s first game back at the BMO Bradley Center.
"We had major opportunities," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "When you play a team like Golden State you have to be mindful of the fact that both Curry and Thompson are tremendous shooters. The type of shots he can make, they can deflate you. You have to be strong enough to withstand that. We had opportunities. We got some stops but on the other end, from an execution standpoint, we just werenât good."
Golden State won its 10th straight — the Warriors’ longest winning streak since 1975 — despite sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combining to hit just 11 of 36 shots and 3 of 17 3-pointers.
The Warriors closed the game 9-of-34 as a team but the Bucks did nothing to close the game. Things were decided during a 16-2 run by Golden State in just over four minutes to turn a 57-53 score into 73-55.
"Right now, we’re a team that doesn’t know how to win," Drew said after the Bucks fell to 3-13 at home and 7-27 overall. "We do things the first half where we’re successful, and then we come back the second have and revert back to our old ways. We revert to bad habits. Second half we had a breakdown, and that’s the discouraging thing for me."
Milwaukee didn’t allow a fastbreak point in the first half, a stunning stat against Golden State. But that didn’t keep up in the second half.
"We did a good job getting back," Bucks guard Brandon Knight said. "I think that’s why the game was close in the beginning because we had that energy and we got back and we were alert. It fell off in the second half.
"There wasn’t any particular reason. The energy just wasn’t there."
Coming out of the half slow has been a trend for the Bucks, one they can’t seem to figure out. It’s a recipe for disaster for a team with such a slim margin of error.
"When you need energy it is a total team thing," Knight said. "You can’t have one or two guys that bring the energy, it has to be all five guys on the court. I think we just have to do a better job that it’s not just one or two guys, but we have everybody playing with as much energy as you can. When you are tired, you get a sub. We have to do a better job of finding five guys that will come out with the energy we need."
Bucks center Larry Sanders took some of the blame for the sluggish start to the third quarter, seeming extremely disappointed in himself. He finished with five points, six rebounds and no blocks to go along with 2-of-10 shooting.
"I think about myself not providing any energy coming out, not sprinting as hard as I can and being an energy source for my teammates to kind of feed off of," Sanders said. "Once we get down and lose energy, it’s hard to get it back, especially against a team like that."
He also acknowledged energy, while important to every team, is crucial to the Bucks because of their small margin for error.
"It’s one thing we can control, our energy and our effort," Sanders said. "Everything else is out of our control. We can’t control if we make shots or whatever. We have to keep our mind on what we can control."
Bogut returns: Because he was injured when Golden State came to Milwaukee last year, former Bucks center Andrew Bogut played at the Bradley Center for the first time in a visitor’s jersey Tuesday.
Taken with the top pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Bogut spent seven seasons with the Bucks before a trade in March of 2012 sent him to the Warriors along with Stephen Jackson in exchange for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.
Bogut scored eight points and grabbed 12 rebounds Tuesday night, finally looking healthy after numerous injuries slowed him for years.
"It was good," Bogut said of his return. "It was good to see fans come and support me for many years. We got the win which is the one thing I care about. It was good to see friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while. There are a couple of people left over in the organization that I know."
The Bucks and Bogut were rolling in April 2010 when a nasty elbow injury not only derailed his career for a bit but also changed things for the Milwaukee organization.
Bogut suffered significant injuries to his right elbow and right hand when he crashed to the floor hard after being fouled by then-Suns center Amar’e Stoudemire. He then suffered a fractured right ankle in January of 2012 and never again played for the Bucks.
Milwaukee was on its way to the playoffs as a dangerous team and Bogut was playing the best basketball of his career that night against Phoenix. Bogut is healthy, while a reserve forward, Udoh, is all the Bucks have left to show for the deal after Ellis left last summer to sign as a free agent with Dallas.
Bogut is playing a different role for a loaded Warriors team than he did with the Bucks. Instead of being one of the guys the offense runs through, Bogut is a complementary player but an important one to a team that has goals of making a deep postseason run.
"He is a great basketball player," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Since we’ve had him, this is the first time he has truly been healthy. We knew what we were getting in the trade, and we have been patient with him.
"It’s great to see him healthy, because he is playing like the Bogut that Bucks fans watched for years. He has the ability to be an anchor on the defensive end and a playmaker offensively. He has been huge for everything we have done."