24-1: Warriors’ record streak ends in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE - Welcome to Milwaukee, where winning streaks go to die.
The city that put an end to the longest winning streak in the history of major professional sports now has claimed the second longest as well. This is where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his Milwaukee Bucks knocked off Jerry West’s Los Angeles Lakers, ending their 33-game winning streak on Jan. 9, 1972. And it’s where a young but hungry group of Bucks took the court at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday night and finally made the Warriors remember what it’s like to lose, winning 108-95 in front of a highly excited crowd.
Golden State’s season-opening win streak ended at 24 games. Its overall regular-season streak stopped at 28. Weary and depleted after a 13-day road trip, which tied the longest in franchise history, the team can now focus on getting healthy and getting better, rather than scoring more points than the other guys night after night.
“Losing sucks,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “Even if you’re 24-1, losing still sucks. But I’m sure the long flight home, tomorrow off, guys just kind of unwinding, I bet there’ll be a little bit of relief mentally going forward from this point on. It was a lot of fun, and we plan on continuing to win a lot of ball games.”
Power forward Draymond Green admitted that along the way, The Streak became almost bigger than the process.
“When you turn on the TV and all you see is, ‘Warriors streaking, Warriors making history, Warriors doing this, Warriors unbeaten, whose gonna stop them?’ then you start to believe that. So now you’re like, ‘Hey, this team ain’t about to be the first team to beat us. They ain’t about to stop the streak.’ … Through all this you kind of get caught up and trapped inside of what’s going on.”
While the mental strain of the winning streak must have been weighty, the physical wear and tear of this road swing ultimately may have been more of a hardship.
According to Warriors PR director Raymond Ridder, this was the 284th time in NBA annals that a team embarked on a seven-game road trip. Golden State was poised to become the first of those teams to come home 7-0, but you could see the gears starting to grind. Boston took the Warriors to double overtime on Friday, and the back-to-back challenge was the final breaking point.
The Dubs looked sluggish on both ends of the court Saturday. The Bucks had way too many open looks under the basket, and shooter O.J. Mayo was left alone at the top of the arc several times. On offense, the Warriors shot 40.9 percent (36 of 88) overall and 23.1 percent (6 of 26) from 3-point range, and turned over the ball 16 times. Green alone had six turnovers.
Shooting guard Klay Thompson returned from an ankle injury that had kept him out of the Celtics game and said he felt fine, but he looked off. Thompson hit 4 of 14 shots, most of them falling short.
The Warriors started the fourth quarter just three points down at 80-77, certainly within striking range. But the Bucks immediately ripped off an 11-2 run, looking fresher, faster and more confident.
“To me it looked like they wanted it a little more tonight,” Walton said. “We looked like we just ran out of gas a little bit. We tried some different things, we tried go small to get a little energy at the end there. And we looked like we almost made a run, but we couldn’t get the stops we normally get.”
The Warriors’ last real chance came when Green hit a layup with 3:05 remaining to cut the deficit to 99-90. It never got any closer. With Milwaukee up 105-93 and 1:02 on the clock, Walton finally waved the white flag and subbed out his entire five.
Curry scored 28 points, but he was just 2 of 8 from beyond the arc, never really sustaining MVP play. Green had 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala added five assists and nine rebounds off the bench.
Center Greg Monroe was spectacular for the Bucks. He scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, owned the paint and even made some nice passes to cutters. Jabari Parker scored 19 for Milwaukee, Mayo had 18 and Michael Carter-Williams 17.
The game started ominously for the Warriors, with Green shooting an airball on the team’s first possession. It didn’t get better in a hurry, with the Bucks racing out to a 14-5 lead about five minutes into the first quarter.
The Warriors seemed to find their flow late in the quarter. They ended that period on a 10-0 run, and scored the first five of the second quarter. The champions, it seemed, had arrived. And then they went to sleep again. Milwaukee spent most of the second period on an extended 26-9 run, mounting a 14-point lead at 56-42 with 1:22 left before halftime.
Now the grind of airports and hotels gives way to a more forgiving schedule. Starting Wednesday, the Warriors play just five games before Dec. 30, all of them at home. They can use the rest. And the practice.
But first a moment to reflect. Fresh off their first NBA championship in 40 years, the Warriors did the unfathomable and started the season 24-0. They went 248 days between regular-season losses. As the Associated Press pointed out, the other professional Bay Area teams combined for 199 losses as the Warriors kept winning.
And now that they have been proved mortal, they can go back to being defiant.
Asked what the Bucks did to shut down his team, Thompson replied: “We missed shots. They didn’t shut us down, man. No one shuts us down.”
Those are the Warriors we remember.