Posted on March 30, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When the Golden State Warriors lost their all-star roster to various injuries, it became only a matter of time before the Houston Rockets would lock up home-court advantage in the playoffs. But then the Warriors got Draymond Green back and Thursday night saw Kevin Durant return. It would still be hard for the Warriors to make up the difference, but it wouldn’t be impossible.
First things first—beat the Milwaukee Bucks (which is easier said than done).
If the Warriors didn’t lose Andre Iguodala to an injury in the third quarter, and if Kevin Durant didn’t get ejected in the second they might have done just that. But late in the third, Iguodala came up limping after a missed layup. He ended up leaving the game with soreness in his knee.
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Durant tried to argue a call in the final seconds of the first half. He thought he was fouled and decided to get in the ref’s face to argue his case. That earned him the first tech. He got the second when he ran after the official.
“I got fouled and told ’em how I felt about it, and they kicked me out. Pretty simple,” Durant said after the game (ESPN).
There was more to it, of course. Steve Kerr’s comment after the game confirmed that.
“He said the magic word,” coach Steve Kerr said (ESPN). But Kerr wasn’t worried about his star forward.
“I think Kevin just had a moment. He was frustrated so he snapped. It happens,” he said.
Iguodala failed to score before leaving the game but did have five rebounds, four assists, a pair of steals and a block. Durant left the game with ten points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Even with Durant and Iguodala on the court, the Bucks were in control for the majority of the game. After the first quarter, they held a two-point lead, 29-27. Khris Middleton made both free throws at the end of the first half when Durant was ejected to give the Bucks a 58-49 lead.
Without Durant, the Warriors offense suffered in the third quarter. By the time the final quarter rolled around, the Bucks held a comfortable 20-point lead, 92-72. Golden State made the end result look better with a strong fourth quarter. But in the end, they still lost 116-107.
Quin Cook, who is starting for Steph Curry had an impressive night from the floor (12-15; 5-5 from three-point range) with 30 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee with 32 points. Khris Middleton chipped in 23 and Eric Bledsoe added another 20.
Antetokounmpo tweaked his ankle in the third but was able to return to the game in the fourth quarter. After the game, he had this to say about the injury (ESPN):
“To be honest with you I was thinking about Sweeney. He’s been calling me softie, he told me that three years ago I used to play that. I was like, “OK, I’m going to play through it.”
He’ll have to get back on it Friday night when the Bucks visit the Lakers in Los Angeles. Golden State will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard with a trip to Sacramento Saturday night.
With the loss, the Warriors record fell to 54-21. It was their third loss in a row and seventh in their last ten games. With Houston on a 10-game winning streak and their record sitting at 61-14, the Warriors can’t catch the Rockets.
The Conference title and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs reside with the Houston Rockets.