OAKLAND, Calif. – Malcolm Brogdon wasn’t afraid to say it.
The Milwaukee Bucks guard knew his teammates did not have the usual pep in their step in a 117-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at the Oracle Arena.
Brogdon wasn’t making an excuse, but he was not ignoring the reality of the situation, either. The Bucks were playing on the second night of a back-to-back set after going to the wire for a 107-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Friday night. The Warriors were rested after a blowout win over Orlando on Thursday night at home.
Milwaukee broke out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter but showed no staying power as the Warriors quickly erased their deficit and took a 63-44 lead at halftime.
When Golden State started raining in shots from everywhere, the Bucks had no response.
“There are no excuses, but we were fatigued and it’s the second game of a back-to-back,” Brogdon said. “If your second game of a back-to-back is one of the very best teams, it’s going to be tough.
“Fatigue definitely plays a factor, but it’s not the reason why we lost. Guys were a little bit drained, especially playing a team that moves as much as them and passes as much. It’s just a test.”
The Bucks dropped to 2-2 on their six-game trip with games remaining at Portland and Sacramento. The team is scheduled to arrive in Portland at mid-day Monday and practice there before facing the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at the Moda Center. Then the Bucks will end the trip in Sacramento in the second of a back-to-back set on Wednesday night at the Kings’ new Golden 1 Center.
The rest and recovery issue is a big topic in the league right now, with teams electing to keep star players out of games to have them ready for the playoffs. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night and the result was predictable: a rout by the Clippers. But fans who paid expensive ticket prices to see James play in Los Angeles did not get refunds, and the NBA’s nationally televised Saturday showcase was a dud.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game that changes have to be made, particularly for nationally televised games, to make sure the best players are on the floor. He said when those games were played on Sunday afternoons the back-to-back situations did not come into play because teams did not play the night before.
“We have to protect our product,” Rivers said.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr rested his top players for a nationally televised game in San Antonio last week after Golden State went through a grueling stretch of eight games in eight cities over 13 days. And it also was the second game of a back-to-back set after the Warriors had played in Minneapolis the previous night and had a long flight to Texas.
The Warriors’ stars were on the court Saturday, however, and the Bucks could not stop the combo of Stephen Curry (28 points) and Klay Thompson (21 points).
“He’s going to make shots,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Curry. “You can be on him; he’s going to make some from half-court. You have to make him work on the other end. But you can’t get frustrated; that’s just who he is. He’s one of the best in the league.
“When we were out there moving the ball, good things were happening. And we lost that trust.”
Brogdon led the Bucks with 18 points and Greg Monroe and Tony Snell had 12 each. Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes as Draymond Green played lockdown defense on the Bucks all-star.
Antetokounmpo declined to talk to reporters after the game.
“Draymond is a defensive guy,” Kidd said. “He understands the game and has a very high IQ. He frustrated Giannis.”
Green said he tried to make sure Antetokounmpo did not get going with transition baskets.
“It’s tough to stop him when he’s going full speed,” Green said. “I felt good about a couple plays there in transition where I made him have to drop the ball off because I didn’t give him an angle to the rim. I take that as a win because usually that’s a dunk.”
In a recent three-game stretch, Curry went 4 for 31 from three-point range, and a few games later in back-to-back Golden State losses to Boston and Minnesota, he was 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.
But Curry got in a groove early and stunned Brogdon when he let one fly from 33 feet and it settled in the net to cap the Warriors’ 36-point second quarter.
“Shocked me, even though I’ve seen it before on TV,” Brogdon said. “Honestly, I should know better. I should be up more. I’ll watch that on film. But it’s a great shot.”
The Bucks want to end the trip with positive results. Guard Matthew Dellavedova said they can bounce back.
“We had some slip-ups and miscommunication, and they kind of hit us in the mouth,” Dellavedova said. “We lost our way for a stretch there, and good teams like that will punish you.
“We’re not aiming for .500 (on the trip). We want to keep getting better.”
Fines levied: Bucks center Greg Monroe was fined $35,000 for shoving Lakers guard/forward Nick Young above the shoulders during their game Friday night. Young was fined $25,000 for initiating the altercation by shoving Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon. Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was fined $15,000 for entering the fray and pushing Monroe. All three players were assessed technical fouls in the game and ejected. The incident occurred near the end of the third quarter.