Kevin Durant ejected in return as Bucks rout Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant’s return from a rib injury ended early.
The All-Star forward was ejected with 2.4 seconds left in the first half of the Golden State Warriors’ 116-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.
“He said the magic word,” coach Steve Kerr said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and the Bucks beat the Warriors for just the second time in their past 10 meetings.
Sidelined by a fractured rib the previous six games, Durant argued after getting no foul call on a drive through three Bucks defenders. Official Tre Maddox whistled him for a technical foul, then gave him another and tossed him. Khris Middleton made two free throws to cap an 11-0 run that gave Milwaukee a 58-49 halftime lead.
“I got fouled, I told him how I felt about it, he kicked me out. That simple,” Durant said.
Crew chief Bill Kennedy confirmed to a pool reporter that both technicals were the result of vulgarity by Durant.
The Warriors dropped their third straight game and seventh in 10 outings, allowing the Houston Rockets to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
“We’re struggling right now,” said Kerr, whose team welcomed back Durant and Draymond Green, but played again without injured Stephen Curry (ankle sprain) and Klay Thompson (broken thumb).
The Warriors remain firmly in the No. 2 slot in the West and Kerr refused to make too much out of Durant’s ejection.
“I think Kevin just had a moment. He was frustrated so he snapped. It happens,” Kerr said.
Durant leads the NBA with five ejections and now has 14 technical fouls, two short of the threshold for a one-game suspension.
Durant, who had 10 points, six assists and three rebounds in 17 minutes, said of his conversations with the refs, “I could definitely talk to them a little better, I guess.”
Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said the game was physical from the start.
“So there was contact on plays,” he said. “I don’t know exactly for him what took place on that play.”
Green, who missed the three previous games (pelvic contusion and flu-like symptoms), had 11 points and six assists.
The Warriors never threatened again after Durant was tossed. The Bucks, eighth in the Eastern Conference, led 92-72 after three quarters.
Middleton scored 23 for Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo scored 30 for the sixth time this month, the 21st time on the season.
“Oh yeah, I was excited about the game,” Antetokounmpo said. “You’re playing against the best team in the NBA. You got to show up because if you don’t show up they’re going to embarrass you.”
Quinn Cook, starting for Curry, set a career high with 30 points to lead the Warriors in scoring for the fifth time in the past seven games.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo tweaked his ankle in the third quarter, but returned midway through the fourth after the Warriors made a move. “I’ll be fine,” he said. … Guards Malcolm Brogdon (left quadriceps) and Matthew Dellavedova (right ankle), both sidelined since February, remained out with no timetable for their return, according to Prunty. Center Thon Maker (right groin) missed his third straight game.
Warriors: Kerr said Thompson could return as soon as Saturday at Sacramento, but isn’t even certain to play on Sunday at home against Phoenix. “It’s day to day, but it’s getting close,” he said. Thompson missed his eighth straight game with a fractured right thumb.
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Andre Iguodala exited the game with left knee soreness and likely won’t play on Saturday at Sacramento, Kerr said.
Bucks: At Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
Warriors: At Sacramento on Saturday.