Milwaukee Bucks stomp Golden State Warriors, keep ‘building good habits’ vs. elite teams

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks delivered another shock victory Thursday night with a 118-99 rout of the Golden State Warriors, continuing their trend of being at their best this season when they faced other potential title contenders.

The Bucks crushed the Warriors early on, jumping out to a 39-point halftime lead, Golden State’s biggest halftime deficit since the franchise moved from Philadelphia.

Last week, the Bucks won handily against the Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets, whom they also beat on opening night in Milwaukee, a pair of teams they could see on the way to trying to repeat as NBA champions.

“I don’t know why we play well in the big games, but at the end of the day we have to keep building good habits to move forward,” said Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in 30 minutes. “Great games with great excitement or even games that no one watches, no one cares, we have to keep building good habits, so we can be good in May and June.”

Milwaukee had coach Mike Budenholzer on the sidelines again after complying with health and safety protocols, but was playing without guard Jrue Holiday, its best perimeter defender, who missed his fourth straight game with an ankle. Still, the Bucks were able to contain Warriors star Stephen Curry with a suffocating defensive effort.

Curry was 4-for-11 shooting in the game (2-for-6-for-3) for 12 points. He has shot less than 50% from the field in eight straight games, the longest streak of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Golden State went 3-for-14 from the field with three turnovers and seven points as the Bucks double-teamed Curry.

“Milwaukee is a good team. They obviously have championship DNA now,” Curry said, “and they present some challenges in terms of putting pressure on the inside end and space. We got off to a terrible start where everything went wrong.”

The Warriors have lost four of their last five games overall and Curry is mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, but they didn’t panic about his recent skid.

“To be honest, I’m not that worried,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “I know we just kicked our asses. We’re in a bit of a slump in our season. It happens to every team, pretty much every year, with very few exceptions. We’re kind of stuck. We played a team that was ready and played great. … And then we’re kind of out of it, and we just have to get back to normal.”

Golden State will play the Bulls in the second half of a back-to-back game Friday night in Chicago. Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting in 21 minutes, is not expected to play as the Warriors help him return to action after missing more than two years due to injuries.

Meanwhile, the Bucks have continued to face some of the toughest competition in the league due to Antetokounmpo’s dominant performances.

On Thursday, Antetokounmpo went a perfect 9-for-9 inside the restricted area with four dunks. He scored on four different primary defenders (including 4-for-4 against Andre Iguodala) and made all seven of his open shots. Even when the Warriors forced him to make a pass, he routinely made the correct reading: The Bucks shot 11 of 16 (30 points) from Antetokounmpo’s passes, according to an investigation by ESPN Stats & Information.

“My mindset is, I’ve got something I’m going to take. I’m not going to hesitate,” Antetokounmpo said. “If someone is completely open, I’ll try to get the ball to them. If I can’t, I’ll see what’s next. I always try to be in the moment. But having an assertive mindset, an aggressive mindset, that’s how I start the game. That’s what I think on every possession.

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