The Warriors arrived in frigid Milwaukee looking to erase the memory of that awful loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a road win over the Bucks. Though the Warriors were once again without Stephen Curry, the game still featured a match-up of two of the NBA’s best and most unique players. After giving up a 14-point lead in the third quarter, the Warriors played one of their best fourth quarters of the season to secure the 108-94 victory.
An efficient first quarter from Durant gives the Warriors the early lead
After a rough first few minutes, the Warriors settled down and started making shots. At the end of the first quarter, the Warriors had the 36-27 lead. The Warriors were able to secure that early lead because of Kevin Durant . Durant picked up where he left off after scoring an efficient 40 points in the loss to the Clippers by scoring 13 points while shooting six for eight from the field. Here he makes one of his two steals that he turns into an impressive layup in traffic.
While Durant starting out hot is not surprising, what was surprising was to see Kevon Looney not only getting some serious early playing time but also playing well too. After being removed from the rotation in the last two games, Looney was a factor against the Bucks, particularly on defense.
Great start for Looney, who follows up a quick layup with a block on a Brogdon layup attempt.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) January 13, 2018
But Looney’s impact on the game was not just felt defensively. Here he gets one of his three assists by making the extra pass to set up Draymond Green for the layup.
The Warriors ended the quarter with a flourish. Getting the ball after a Malcolm Brogdon basket, Nick Young pulled up and hit a three-pointer from way outside to push the Warriors lead to nine as time ran out in the first.
Milwaukee just got a bit swaggier pic.twitter.com/ES3UzlLBxd— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 13, 2018
After struggling mightily after getting the start against the Clippers, Young played well in limited action, scoring eight points in just thirteen total minutes.
Looney continues to play well as the Warriors hold a 14-point lead at halftime
As the Warriors extended their lead, Looney continued to impress on the court. Playing in his hometown of Milwaukee, Looney looked inspired.
Kevon Looney is having a Kevon Looney game. Real active on the glass & on defense. Lots of quality minutes— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 13, 2018
Here we see one of those instances where Looney’s activity on the glass keeps the play alive; he gets the offensive rebound and then passes to Green for a driving bucket.
Give Kevon Looney the max!! pic.twitter.com/f6SAej97BA— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 13, 2018
Looney finished the first half with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, giving the Warriors some much-needed front court minutes. Durant also continued to play well into the second quarter, contributing this highlight where he loses Giannis Antetokounmpo and then throws down the dunk.
While Durant played up to his All-Star standards, Klay Thompson struggled against the Bucks. Whether it was because of the aggressive Bucks' defense or because the cold temperatures sapped him of his energy, Thompson put in a listless performance on Friday night. Thompson scored just 12 points against the Bucks, shooting 36% from the field and missing his two attempts from three-point range, ending his consecutive games with a made three-point shot streak at 95.
But despite Thompson’s struggles, the Warriors still held a sizable lead at the half because of Durant’s dominance and some impressive defense. The Warriors held the Bucks to just 39% shooting from the field (they’ve been averaging closer to 49% so far this season). The Warriors also minimized the damage Antetokounmpo could do, and owing to Durant and Green’s defensive effort, held him to just 15 points. Outside of Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe (who scored 12 points while shooting 67% from three-point range in the first half), the Warriors kept the Bucks completely under wraps.
A 33-17 third quarter gives the Bucks the lead
Normally it is the Warriors who have the outstanding third quarter that propels them into the lead. But tonight, it would be the Bucks who had the much more impressive third quarter, which would give them a two-point lead at the end of it.
The Bucks would use some abnormally good three-point shooting to get back into a game where they’d trailed by as much as 14. With Antetokounmpo forced out of the game with foul troubles, the Bucks turned to outside shooting in the quarter and it paid off.
Yes, the Bucks entered 26th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (35.1), but they have been getting wide open looks vs the Warriors = 11 for 22 through 3 quarters... https://t.co/Ik7dEtHyKk— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 13, 2018
Brogdon scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter, including two shots made from three-point range. Tony Snell would also knock down two shots from long distance in the quarter while Bledsoe made just one shot from three-point range.
In addition to their impressive three-point shooting, the Bucks stepped up their defense in the third quarter, pressuring the Warriors into turnovers and bad shots, which the Warriors had avoided doing for most of the game. Antetokounmpo’s defense on Durant was particularly strong and a part of why the Bucks were able to erase a double-digit Warriors lead.
Warriors outscore the Bucks by 16 points in the final quarter to win the game
Trailing by as many as four points at the beginning of the game’s final quarter, the Warriors' second unit went on a 10-2 run to reclaim the lead. Green scored two points, handed out one assist, and pulled down three rebounds in that stretch that gave the Warriors back a lead they would never relinquish.
Green finished Friday night’s game against the Bucks with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, all while playing great defense against an impressive Bucks' front court. After playing dreadfully against the Clippers, Green responded with one of his trademark complete performances that helped the Warriors secure the win.
Another big part of the Warriors' impressive fourth quarter was David West. West, who scored eight points coming off of the bench, played excellent defense in the fourth.
This has been a great defensive stretch for this Warriors' 2nd unit. Held the Bucks to 4 points in 6 minutes on 2/11 FG. David West's been great.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 13, 2018
The veteran big man grabbed four defensive rebounds and blocked two Bucks shots to stifle their offense. While the Bucks rode hot shooting in the third quarter to claim the lead; in the fourth those shots stopped falling and the Bucks couldn’t keep up.
Outside of Antetokounmpo’s 23 points, Bledsoe’s 21, and Brogdon’s 17, the Bucks could not muster the offense to defeat the Warriors. Khris Middleton, who is the team’s second leading scorer behind Antetokounmpo, played poorly against the Warriors, scoring just eight points while shooting 16% from the field.
While the Warriors' fourth-quarter defense made the game-ending dominance possible, it was Durant who hit the dagger and effectively ended the game.
Getting open for the briefest of moments, Green fed Durant the perfect pass and he knocked down the three-pointer that put the game out of reach. Durant finished with 26 points, while also tallying an impressive 6 assists and 6 rebounds.
What was clear throughout this game, particularly in the game’s closing minutes, was that Durant had not only been looking forward to playing against Antetokounmpo, a potential MVP candidate, but that he’d elevated his game for the occasion. What makes Durant such a great basketball player is the way he relishes these challenges, these opportunities. It reflects how much he loves and cares about the game that when he gets the opportunity to play against a great player or a great team, he can take his play to the next level.
After the win, the Warriors travel from chilly Milwaukee to equally-chilly Toronto to play their second game in as many nights against the Raptors, who hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
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