Bad shooting and bad ballhandling is a recipe for problems. Against the two-time defending champions, it’s a recipe for certain defeat.
The Milwaukee Bucks made just 7 of 39 3-pointers Friday night, and many of those misses weren’t even close as the Golden State Warriors used a stifling defense for a 105-95 victory at Fiserv Forum.
Fans expected to see two of the league’s best offensive teams featuring a number of the league’s best offensive players. Instead, the brand-new arena provided enough bricks to build another new arena.
The Bucks (16-8) failed to score 100 points for the first time this season. In fact, the game was a major departure from the teams’ previous meeting Nov. 8 in Oakland, a 134-111 Milwaukee victory. In that game, the Bucks scored 84 points in the paint. Milwaukee shot just 39.1% (36 of 92).
Klay Thompson and Steph Curry led the Warriors (18-9) with 20 points each. Star forward Kevin Durant tallied just 11 on 3-of-14 shooting. Yet while the Warriors’ high-scoring trio had a rather pedestrian night and star Draymond Green remained out with a toe injury, the Bucks could never seize the game.
Khris Middleton remained in a lull, going 4 for 14 and just 1 for 7 on 3-pointers. Center Brook Lopez went 5 for 13 and 1 for 6 on 3-pointers. Malcolm Brogdon entered the game shooting 49.4% on threes and went 1 for 6.
The bench provided no spark, either, going 2 for 13 from behind the arc.
And as if the bad shooting wasn’t enough, the Bucks also turned the ball over 19 times.
Since a 7-0 start, the Bucks have gone just 9-8.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 22 points and 15 rebounds. But with no one making outside shots, the Warriors packed things in and kept Antetokounmpo from taking over inside.
After 32 minutes of struggles, the Bucks used a 10-2 spurt to take a 74-72 lead on Ersan Iluasova’s jumper. Curry immediately followed with a 3-pointer to restore the Golden State lead, and the Bucks never got back to even again. Curry’s 3-pointer with 19.6 seconds left capped an 11-2 run to close the period and give the Warriors an 83-76 lead.
The Bucks never got closer than five in the fourth quarter and never got closer than seven in the last 7 minutes.