OAKLAND, Calif. – The pregame chatter about Milwaukee’s exuberant celebration after handing Golden State its first loss of the season last week carried on throughout the game, peaking in a postgame dustup between Draymond Green and O.J. Mayo.
Before that, the Bucks and Warriors played a thrilling game.
Stephen Curry scored 26 points and Green fueled a key fourth-quarter run that helped the Warriors avenge their only loss by beating the Bucks 121-112 on Friday night.
“I’m not satisfied because I thought we should have been better,” Green said. “We’re a long way past trying to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in December. We’re trying to compete for a championship.”
The game ended with Green and Mayo exchanging heated words before Mayo put his hand on Green’s head. Green slapped it away and Khris Middleton then pushed Green. A few other players got involved before everything was broken up and both teams retreated to their locker rooms.
“No man is going to touch my head,” Green said. “Point blank.”
Mayo said he was upset that Green called out Michael Carter-Williams for a post-dunk celebration at the end of Milwaukee’s win last Saturday that snapped the Warriors’ 28-game, regular-season winning streak dating to last season.
“Show a little respect,” Mayo said. “You talk about one guy’s class and then you go the same route, that’s not class. They’re the world champs, good luck to them for the rest of the season and the same for us.”
What some thought would be a revenge-fueled blowout for Golden State turned into a hard-fought victory. The Warriors trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and by 11 with less than eight minutes to play before Green and Curry took over to improve Golden State to 26-1 with their 30th straight home win in the regular season.
“We were very public about the fact that we wanted to get revenge. Then we didn’t come out and play with that edge and that mentality,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “If you’re going to say that about another team you should expect… they’re not going to fold.”
Green scored eight points in a span of 1:06 to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 100-97. Curry then got fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to tie it at 100 at the midpoint of the quarter
“We were searching,” Green said. “I know I needed to step up and make plays. I was able to get a couple of buckets and spark our run. That’s what we needed at that point.”
The game stayed tight from there before Curry used a slick crossover to score a layup that put the Warriors up for good with just over two minutes left. Curry got a steal on Milwaukee’s next possession and made two free throws and then fed Andre Iguodala for a 3-pointer from the corner to seal the win.
“They hit shots and the tide turned,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “For us, a lot of good things came out of this. We competed. If we play with that kind of energy every time we take the court, we’ll win a lot more games.”
Klay Thompson added 27 points and Green had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Bucks: Carter-Williams scored 24 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 20… Former Warriors player Sonny Parker, who is the father of Milwaukee F Jabari Parker, got a nice ovation when shown on the scoreboard in a Warriors shirt and Bucks hat.
Warriors: C Andrew Bogut did not return after the first quarter because an injured back… Curry hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute to extend his streak to 100 straight regular-season games with a 3-pointer.
The Bucks, who are the second-lowest scoring team in the NBA, had 70 points in the first half to take a 12-point lead. They shot 60 per cent in the half as they easily picked apart Golden State’s defence with the highest-scoring first half against the Warriors since Oklahoma City scored 71 on Jan. 17, 2014.
“They came out, they wanted a piece of the champs and we weren’t fighting back,” Walton said.
Golden State fans showed they can get into the T-shirt message game, too. A week after Milwaukee fans predicted Golden State’s first loss with “24-1” T-shirts, a handful of Warriors fans responded by wearing shirts with “10-18” written on the front for the rematch with the Bucks in reference to what they expected Milwaukee’s record to be after the game.
“They took the time out to waste money on the T-shirt, which is cool,” Kidd said.
Bucks: Visit Phoenix on Sunday.
Warriors: Host Utah on Wednesday.