Warriors vs. Bucks Final Score: Bucks fly past Warriors 108-95 to snap Golden State’s record 24-0 start

All streaks were meant to be broken — even the Golden State Warriors’ incredible 24-0 start to the 15/16 NBA season.

While both the Warriors and Bucks were coming off difficult road games Friday night, it was the Bucks who looked the more lively bunch on Saturday night in Milwaukee, and in the process they did what no other team has done this season: beat Stephen Curry,Draymond Green and the defending champs. Jason Kidd’s club needed a first career triple-double from Giannis Antetokounmpo, a big night from Greg Monroe, a season-high from Jabari Parker and a strong two-way effort from Michael Carter-Williams to do it, but they got all of those things in what ultimately proved a dream night for Bucks Nation.

Monroe was the biggest star of the night with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, including a flurry of buckets down the stretch against Green, who was also the Warriors’ best player with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists of his own. Curry added a good-but-not-great-for-him 28 points (10/21 shooting, 2/8 threes), but the Bucks did well limiting his open looks from three and managed to contain the rest of the Warriors about as well as could have been expected. Though they buzzed up and down the court like usual and managed to nab 15 offensive rebounds, Golden State connected on just 6/26 from three and shot just 40% overall.

While Monroe’s 11 fourth quarter points ultimately provided decisive, the Bucks’ big man had no shortage of support from his teammates. First, the backcourt duo of O.J. Mayoand Khris Middleton got them off to a good start with a combined 16 first quarter points, propelling the energized Bucks to a 28-18 lead. The Warriors then ripped off a 15-0 run against the Bucks’ second unit early in the second, but Giannis scored nine and added five assists as the Bucks’ starters extended the lead back to 59-48 at the half. In the third it was Parker’s turn, as he sparked the Bucks with nine points as Milwaukee clung to an 80-77 lead heading into the final stanza.

From there on out it was all Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams. First MCW got things going with a couple of tough (slash lucky?) floaters to push the Bucks’ lead to 85-77 early in the fourth. Monroe then took over down the stretch, blowing by Green for three layups and setting up MCW for a thunderous two-handed dunk and later Giannis for a layup. Together MCW and Monroe combined for 22 of the Bucks’ 28 fourth quarter points, with a steal and slam from MCW providing the game’s final exclamation point.

– Frank Madden

Tidbits

  • You can re-watch every made basket from the game right here.
  • In his pregame availability, Kidd talked about the need for Antetokounmpo learning to lead the second unit when I asked about Antetokounmpo coming out early in the first quarter last night. The entire exchange was pretty fascinating.
  • Also, in his pregame availability, Kidd mentioned that Middleton will not play with the second unit as much anymore and said, “We play through Khris a lot and we’re probably going to play through him tonight.”
  • Mayo was fantastic early, scoring 11 early points in 9 minutes and 20 seconds of first quarter action. He was three-for-three from the line and had a nice backdoor pass to Parker for a dunk.
  • Mayo was four-for-five from three in the first half. He hit some big shots, if those exist in the second quarter.
  • Rotation Stuff: Rashad Vaughn and Johnny O’Bryant entered the game for the first time with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
  • 3rd Quarter Bench Minutes: Carter-Williams 5:11, Henson 4:14, Johnny O’Bryant 1:46
  • The Bucks started the fourth quarter with MCW/Middleton/Giannis/JOB/Henson and ended it with MCW/Mayo/Middleton/Giannis/Monroe.
  • Three Bucks played the entire fourth quarter: Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Carter-Williams. (Monroe played 11:34 of the final period.)
  • After playing the entire third quarter, Parker went to the bench with a team-high 19 points — and didn’t play at all in the fourth.
  • Middleton gave the Bucks an early boost with seven quick points on 3/3 shooting, but then proceeded to miss his final nine shots and didn’t score in the final three quarters.

Thoughts

  • I commented on Johnny O’Bryant’s ability to commit a professional foul the other night. The rest of the lineup struggles with wrapping somebody up and keeping opponents from getting a chance at a three point play.
  • The first two quarters were the best two quarters of the Bucks’ season. The defense was flying around. The offense was moving the ball. Antetokounmpo almost had a triple-double. Monroe almost had a double-double. The depleted bench survived against the Warriors’ bench. Mayo was 4-for-5 from the three point line. Giannis hit a catch-and-shoot three.
  • (That previous bullet was written at halftime because I didn’t think the Bucks would be able to continue their stellar play for four quarters. It was refreshing to see their effort and focus sustained for 48 minutes.)
  • Jabari Parker is fantastic at taking the right steps to get himself prepared to explode on the catch on fast breaks. He always manages to get his feet in the perfect position to jump off of two feet instead of one.
  • It’s been said many times before, but Carter-Williams struggles regularly because his plan is often to take the ball to the basket, no matter how many defenders are in his way. Sometimes, it works out because he can bounce off a defender or have a few floaters fall. Tonight was one of the times it worked. He made a number of big plays down the stretch and ended with 11 fourth quarter points.
  • While chatting with Alex Boeder and Jeremy Schmidt during the game tonight, I decided on a nickname for Johnny O’Bryant. Just Enough. As in, he does just enoughto make me think he might someday in the far off future possibly be a rotation player in the right situation if everything happens right.
  • Tonight, it seemed like every play was a HUGE play because the Warriors are just so damn good. Here is a list of fourth quarter plays that I thought were HUGE in sequential order (time left/score): Carter-Williams’ floater plus the foul (9:39/85-77), O’Bryant’s baseline jump shot (6:57/91-79), Carter-Williams’ two-hand dunk from Monroe (6:00/93-80), Monroe’s layup on Green (5:29/95-83), and Monroe’s layup plus foul (2:51/102-90).
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his first career triple-double. That is pretty awesome.
  • This was a huge win and could possibly help turn around the Bucks season…or they could lose to the Lakers on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. For this game to be meaningful, the Bucks need to start bringing the focus they brought to EVERY SINGLE possession against the Warriors.
  • After the game, Kidd said, “Tonight, we couldn’t rest on anybody. There was nobody out there you could take a break on. So, guys were helping one another and we got deflections and steals, something we take pride in.” Essentially, Kidd suggested that it is easier to stay focused defensively when the other team is full of great players. The test for the Bucks will be to bring that effort against the worst teams in the league, like they did against the best team in the league.

Bucks vs. Lakers Preview: Milwaukee begins 4-game road trip against Kobe Bryant and Co. in Los Angeles

After basking in the glow of their historic win over the Warriors on Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks are trading the bitter Wisconsin cold for some West Coast sun with a four-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

Following tonight’s late central time tip, the Bucks face the Clippers tomorrow evening, one week after falling 109-95 to Doc Rivers’ club in Milwaukee. The Bucks will then have a rematch against the Golden State Warriors on Friday right before Brandon Knightfaces his former team in the Arizona desert on Sunday.

Bucks update

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Bucks snapped the Golden State Warriors’ 28-game winning streak and 24-0 start this past Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, 108-95. It marked the sixth time in franchise history the Bucks snapped a major NBA winning streak — the longest being a 33-game streak the Lakers held in 1971-72 — and weirdly enough, all five of those teams the Bucks stopped went on to win the NBA Finals that year (we’ll see if the Warriors can be the sixth team).

Led by Greg Monroe’s 28 points and 11 rebounds and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s neartriple-double, the Bucks held off a fatigued Warriors team that was finishing a seven-game road trip and coming off a double-OT win in Boston the night before. You can definitely make the case that this was the Bucks’ best win in many years, though the bigger question now is what they do next.

Podcast: How the Bucks actually stopped Golden State’s historic 24-0 start

Putting the game against the Warriors in the rearview mirror, the Bucks have road woes to clean up with just a 2-10 record away from home, including nine in a row. Milwaukee hasn’t beaten a team on the road since way back on November 6, though they’ve also had a tough slate of opponents including Toronto, San Antonio, Detroit, Cleveland and Charlotte.

The Bucks haven’t gotten much help from an inexperienced and injured bench this season, but it doesn’t help that they don’t add much efficiency on the road, either. At home, the second unit for the Bucks chips in 30.8 points per game on 42 percent shooting, but on the road, that total drops down to 27.8 per game on 40 percent shooting, which ranks 28th in the league percentage wise. It doesn’t help that Jerryd Bayless andGreivis Vasquez remain out due to ankle injuries, with neither player joining the team on the current trip.

Lakers update

The Lakers (3-21) are coming off a 126-97 loss to the Houston Rockets and are hoping to snap a six-game losing streak. Los Angeles was led by Kobe Bryant’s 25 points (9-for-16 from the field, 4-for-9 from three) and seven rebounds, while James Harden scored 30 points for Houston. The Rockets hit 15 threes and shot 52 percent as a team in addition to attempting 28 shots at the foul line.

Bryant is still leading the Lakers in scoring with just 16.2 points per game while on his farewell tour, but he’s shooting a horrid 32 percent from the field and 23 percent from the 3-point line — unheard-of levels of inefficiency for a guy still eating up 30% of his team’s possessions.

Since we’re on the subject of road struggles, the Lakers return home to the Staples Center for the first time since Nov. 29, mercifully ending a 1-7 road trip. The Lakers started their trip in less-than-ideal fashion, becoming the first team to lose to the 76erssince last spring. They did rebound with a solid win against the Wizards, but proceeded to drop six straight to Atlanta, Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota, San Antonio and Houston, allowing their opponents to score 111.8 per game.

On the injury front, Jordan Clarkson practiced in full on Monday according to head coach Byron Scott. If he’s a go tonight for the Lakers, expect No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell to come off the bench with 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle.

Big numbers for Michael Carter-Williams aren’t translating into wins for the Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by eight points last night. No big surprise.

Khris Middleton sank a bunch of threes and topped his previous career high in scoring, while Giannis Antetokounmpo wowed spectators with this ridiculous eurostep drive and dunk. Mildly surprising.

Michael Carter-Williams tallied a near-triple-double and we didn’t even talk much about it? Quite surprising.

There are a few reasons one of MCW’s best performances of the season got swept under the rug. Middleton and Antetokounmpo deservedly took the highlight airtime, with Middleton’s substance keeping the Bucks competitive almost single-handedly for much of the second half while Giannis naturally provided the style. MCW meanwhile was more workmanlike, hitting a trio of mid-range jumpers and a critical corner three that kick-started Milwaukee’s comeback attempt.  Also, the Bucks lost, and that’s really been the story lately. Overshadowing most big games by anybody on the team has been the mounting pile of losses that invariably follows them.

Over his last nine games, beginning with the Golden State win, Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting 52.3% from the field. And in that stretch, the Bucks are 3-6, with the other two victories coming against bottom-feeders Phoenix and Philadelphia. His cumulative plus-minus over that span is a whopping negative four. To whatever extent raw plus-minus is meaningful over a tiny stretch of games, it suggests MCW’s play has been anything but. Last night’s plus-ten rating was the third time this season MCW has had a positive plus-minus in a game the Bucks lost.

Relatively speaking, the Bucks aren’t a point-guard-centric outfit. When push comes to shove, the offense tends to run through Greg Monroe or occasionally Khris Middleton. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that even strong performances by MCW fail to make a major impact on the Bucks’ fortunes. But a 19/9/9 line, in a game where Middleton broke the 30-point mark, Giannis added 27 more, Milwaukee committed only 14 turnovers and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, and the Bucks lose somewhat handily?

Look no further than Milwaukee’s 113.4 defensive rating over that same stretch of games. In five of those games they’ve had defensive ratings above 119! Milwaukee is putting up numbers, in no small part thanks for MCW, but simply can’t keep pace with the outputs they’re permitting. Nobody is free from blame for that mess, and Carter-Williams has never really lived up to his defensive reputation since coming to Milwaukee (for what it’s worth, MCW is third among the Bucks’ starters in defensive plus-minus according to ESPN.com). I’ll continue to insist that point guard is the least important defensive position, but watch MCW for a full game or two and you’ll see at least a handful of mental lapses and physical failures. Those haven’t necessarily gone away lately; rather, Carter-Williams’ improved offense has partially offset them, but the bar for improvement sits so incredibly low for the entire team that mere “offsetting” of their atrocious defense just isn’t sufficient to really move the needle.

For me the biggest result of MCW’s hot streak has been a shift in focus to a new target of frustration: Jabari Parker. There are loads of extenuating circumstances for Parker’s generally so-so play this season, but that doesn’t diminish the reality of how bad he’s been lately. Giannis’s big game was great to see, but he too has been prone to disappearing acts on any given night. The point is, anything short of superstar-caliber performances (and even MCW’s strong games aren’t quite that) will be for naught if there isn’t at least a little bit of backup. Parker’s no-shows put a tremendous strain on a team that is already stressed trying to keep up with opponents each night. I’m not advocating for a drastic reduction in his role–he and Giannis remain the two most important players on the team by a wide margin. But he’s earned some criticism with this latest stretch of games, just as MCW has earned his praise.

Does this current run change the calculus moving forward, even to the small extent a nine-game sample ever would? Not necessarily, given the way it’s been unfolding every night. But credit should be given where credit is due, and it’s been due so rarely this season that we’ve got a lot of it just sitting around in the warehouse.

OKC Thunder: Billy Donovan debates his delay of game violation against Bucks

Just as Thunder coach Billy Donovan stood up and walked away from the bench in the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, a ball wound up in his hands. As Bucks forward Greg Monroe tossed the ball Donovan’s way, the coach retracted his arms, but then instinctually caught the ball as Bucks forward Jabari Parker charged at him in an attempt to save the ball at 3:47.

Ex-Bucks Cheerleader Sues Over Pay

The former Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader Lauren Herington has sued the team, saying the flat-rate pay system dancers work under leaves them earning far less than minimum wage. The lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind on behalf of dancers against an N.B.A. franchise, and it comes after several similar filings against N.F.L. teams recently.

N.B.A. Cheerleaders’ New Rallying Cry: Better Pay

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Lauren Herington, a former Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader, has sued the team, saying she was paid less than the minimum wage.

Credit
Kristen Schmid for The New York Times

As the N.B.A. starts a new season this week, the salary cap for players will climb to a record $70 million per team at the same time that a federal court considers charges that cheerleaders have been cheated out of fair pay.

This fall, legal claims of wage theft in professional cheerleading have spread from the N.F.L. to the N.B.A., and basketball teams’ treatment of female performers is under intense scrutiny.

Lauren Herington, a former dancer for the Milwaukee Bucks, sued the team in federal court in Wisconsin last month, charging that she had been paid well under the minimum wage during the 2013-14 season. Hers is the first suit of its kind in the N.B.A., and it could have implications both for the roughly 40 women who would qualify as members of a Bucks class action and for the broader league.

While dancing for the Bucks, Ms. Herington said, she spent full days practicing, performing and engaging in mandatory exercise and beauty regimens. The flat fees she received — $65 for games, $30 for practices and $50 for special appearances translated to an average hourly wage of $5, according to her lawyers. On busier weeks, hourly earnings fell as low as $3, the lawyers said, less than half the $7.25 minimum required by both Wisconsin and federal law.

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“They told us it was a full-time commitment with part-time pay,” Ms. Herington said. “If we had an issue, we’d be shown the door.”

Since last month, another plaintiff has joined Ms. Herington, and her lawyers said five others were considering doing the same.

In a statement, the Milwaukee Bucks said the team would fight the suit in court.

“The lawsuit presents inaccurate information that creates a false picture of how we operate,” Jake Suski, a spokesman, wrote in an email. “The Bucks value the contributions our dancers make to the team. We treat all of our employees fairly, including our Bucks dancers, and pay them fairly and in compliance with federal and state law.”

Mike Bass, a spokesman for the N.B.A., said: “Team dancers are an important part of the N.B.A. game experience and are valued members of the N.B.A. family. As for all employees, we work with our teams to ensure that they comply with all applicable wage and working condition laws.”

Beyond wages paid, Ms. Herington’s suit takes into account certain expenses that she said the Bucks required her to cover: special cleaning of her uniform, tanning sessions, false eyelashes, regular manicures and hair appointments at Salon Nova and Lash Boutique, where highlights can run more than $100.

Similar allegations emerged against N.F.L. teams last year, accumulating after a woman sued the Oakland Raiders in January 2014. That case paved the way for subsequent cases against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Most but the Bills case have been settled, though teams have avoided admitting wrongdoing. Last week, the Bengals proposed a settlement, according to the lawyer who brought the class-action suit; the team offered to pay $255,000, or $2,500 for every season a qualifying cheerleader worked for the team, from 2011 to 2013.

The marginal difference between minimum wage and what plaintiffs in these cases were paid is not large, said Sharon Vinick, an employment lawyer in California who argued the first case of this kind, against the Raiders. That team agreed to pay about $6,000 to each woman who worked for the team from 2010 to 2012, and $2,500 for 2013, when pay was higher.

“That amount of money means nothing to these teams,” Ms. Vinick said. “We’re not talking about mom-and-pop struggling businesses that can’t afford to pay. These are multimillion-dollar organizations that are choosing not to follow the law when it comes to compensating these women.”

Responding to litigation, state lawmakers have sought protections for professional cheerleaders, some of whom are independent contractors rather than employees, an arrangement that can help insulate teams from liability. In the case of the pending suit against the Bills, for example, the dancers are contract workers.

In the wake of the Raiders suit, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of California introduced a bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last July, designating professional cheerleaders as employees and entitling them to paid sick leave, family leave and workers’ compensation. It will take effect in January. In New York, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic has introduced a similar bill.

Though both pieces of legislation were inspired by the higher-profile allegations against N.F.L. teams, the lawmakers are not limiting their focus to football.

On Monday, Ms. Gonzalez and Ms. Rozic, together with another New York assemblywoman, will send a letter to the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver. In it, they will ask the N.B.A. to disclose the terms and conditions of cheerleader contracts for all 30 teams in the league. (The lawmakers sent a similar letter to the N.F.L.’s commissioner last month; it has gone unanswered.)

“We want a clear understanding of employment status and pay scales,” Ms. Rozic said, noting that a bit more information had been made public in the N.F.L. because of suits and settlements, but no sense of N.B.A. labor practices with respect to cheerleaders existed.

At least one N.B.A. team is known to pay legal wages, said Ms. Vinick, the California lawyer, and it indirectly inspired the first suit of this kind. Ms. Vinick’s former client Lacy T. of the Raiders, whose last name was not released by the league, danced for the N.B.A. before she joined the N.F.L. Ms. Vinick said the Golden State Warriors of the N.B.A. had paid a legal hourly wage, and that basis for comparison had informed her client’s choice to sue the Raiders.

“I know the Warriors pay dancers legally,” Ms. Vinick said, “but I don’t have any sense of whether that’s the norm in the N.B.A.” She said that after the Raiders case, several other women from N.F.L. teams that have not been sued had approached her. They considered bringing cases, too, she said, but ultimately decided not to for various reasons, including fear of alienating teammates or harming professional dancing careers. She said Ms. Herington’s case might prompt other women to come forward.

“A lot of employees don’t even realize it’s wage theft,” Ms. Vinick said. “There’s this attitude: ‘It’s the Raiders — why would they do something illegal?’ ”

She called the state legislation positive but not essential — it has always been a violation of the law not to pay minimum wage, she said. “If you’re the owner of a team and you’ve continued these practices after these cases, it’s the height of arrogance to think nobody’s going to come and get you,” she said, adding that she was skeptical that league commissioners like Mr. Silver were even aware of each team’s unique compensation structure for cheerleaders.

Her hope, and that of lawmakers, is for the leagues to issue labor guidelines specific to team dancers.

“This shouldn’t have to be done state by state,” said Ms. Gonzalez, the California assemblywoman. “This should be clear to the N.B.A., N.F.L. and N.H.L.”

In 2006, “Making the Team,” a television show following hopeful young women through tryouts for the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleading team, made its debut on Country Music Television. It entered its 10th season on air this year. The show has raised consciousness about the culture of professional cheerleading, showcasing women ridiculed during body-fat evaluations or for not wearing enough makeup.

Ms. Herington, the former Bucks dancer, has her own stories to that effect, having been chastised for choosing to eat a Subway sandwich at a rest stop rather than a salad, or for snacking on pieces of turkey that her coach mistook for beef jerky.

But such stories do not figure into her legal complaint. Instead, her case focuses on the financial bottom line.

“We know the concessionaire selling you a hot dog is an employee making minimum wage,” said Ms. Rozic, the New York legislator. “Why should that be different for the women dancing on the floor?”

Knicks Focus on Fresh Start on Eve of Opener

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Kristaps Porzingis (6), the Knicks’ top draft choice, said he was relying on the team’s veterans to help him keep his emotions in check heading in to the season opener.

Credit
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis was not around last season when the Knicks were plunging to the depths. But he said he could relate. His team in Spain was not exactly vying for a championship, and he dealt with his share of dysfunction.

“We had a similar situation in Spain,” Porzingis said. “Maybe not as bad. But you realize how hard it is to win.”

This is not a foreign concept to people who have been employed by the Knicks in recent seasons. Nor is this news to fans who have paid to witness their struggles. The Knicks were equal parts punch line and roadkill in losing 65 games last season, a franchise record for futility.

On Tuesday, though, the Knicks were undefeated as they looked ahead to Wednesday’s season opener against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Gone were all the losses, replaced by optimism and opportunity. Derrick Williams kept repeating the word “excited,” going so far as to describe his fresh start with the Knicks as a “dream come true.”

At practice, some things felt the same. Coach Derek Fisher, for example, declined to disclose his starting lineup. But Williams and Porzingis were among the new players who had fostered hope. Porzingis, the team’s top draft choice and the presumptive future of the organization, said he was relying on the team’s veterans to help him keep his emotions in check.

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Derrick Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, averaged 16.2 points a game and shot 56.7 percent in the preseason.

Credit
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

“They just tell me not to rush,” Porzingis said. “It’s a long season, so don’t try to do everything in the first game and have the best game of my life. I have to remember that I’m going to need all that energy, and to keep myself focused for a long season.”

The Knicks do not have a charitable schedule to start the season. Twenty-four hours after facing the Bucks on the road, the Knicks will face the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. Their first six opponents reached the playoffs last season.

“We’re going to find out a lot about where we are now, right from the start,” Fisher said.

The team listed Arron Afflalo (hamstring) and Kevin Seraphin (knee) as doubtful for Wednesday’s game. Afflalo, who labored with a hamstring strain throughout the preseason, appeared to reinjure himself last week in the Knicks’ final exhibition, a lackluster loss to the Boston Celtics.

But the Knicks were 4-2 in the preseason, showcasing an up-tempo style on offense. While it is difficult to glean much from exhibition games, their defense also appeared to be improved thanks in part to Robin Lopez, who signed as a free agent.

Charles Barkley, who, in his role as a studio analyst for Turner Sports, spent a good deal of energy last season publicly eviscerating the Knicks, is bullish on the team’s refurbished roster. In a conference call this week, Barkley described the Knicks as one of his “sleeper teams” and predicted that they would make the playoffs. In fact, he guaranteed it.

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“I think Phil Jackson has done a good job getting good, quality players,” Barkley said. “They have actual N.B.A. players on their squad this year to go along with Carmelo Anthony.”

Barkley rattled through some of the key acquisitions: Lopez, Afflalo and Williams among them. As for putting the Knicks in the playoff chase, Barkley has company. In another conference call, the ESPN analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson said the Knicks could vie for a spot.

“This is a team that I don’t think is a long shot to make the playoffs,” Mark Jackson said.

Fisher has avoided talking about expectations. He said he expected the Eastern Conference to be improved this season and cited the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers — two teams that were weakened by injuries last season and missed the playoffs.

“I’m really not worried about where we end up,” Fisher said. “I think our team is focused more on the process.”

His players have adopted the same approach — which, in fairness, is easy to do when they have yet to play a game. Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, averaged 16.2 points a game and shot 56.7 percent in the preseason, but he preached patience. Chemistry can be fickle.

“It can take a couple games,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a month.”

Fisher said he was eager to see how his team would handle adversity. Because he knows adversity is coming. He is just hoping for less of it this season.

Warriors Fall to Bucks, Ending Perfect Start

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The Warriors’ Stephen Curry driving to the hoop against the Bucks on Saturday.

Credit
Mike Mcginnis/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are perfect no more. Their 24-game winning streak to start the 2015-16 N.B.A. season came to end on Saturday night in Milwaukee, where they lost to the Bucks, 108-95.

Although the Warriors had not lost a regular-season game since April 7, the result was not hugely surprising. Golden State was concluding a challenging seven-game trip and coming off a grueling double-overtime game at Boston on Friday night in which they held on for a 124-119 victory.

The normally sharpshooting Warriors struggled to find their range on Saturday, shooting barely 40 percent from the floor, including 6 of 26 from behind the arc. Stephen Curry had 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field, and he went 2 of 8 from 3-point territory. Klay Thompson, returning after missing a game with a sprained ankle, was 4 of 14 for 12 points.

Saturday’s loss stopped the Warriors short of the record of 33 consecutive victories, set by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1971-72 season. The Bucks also stopped the Lakers’ winning streak in 1972.

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“We didn’t have it tonight,” said Luke Walton, the Warriors’ interim coach. “That’s why it’s so hard to do what these guys have done so far. Tonight it caught up to us.”

Walton said that the Bucks “looked like they wanted it a little more tonight. We looked like we ran out of gas.”

The Warriors trailed by 59-48 at halftime, the fourth time this season that Golden State trailed at the half.

Greg Monroe had 28 points for the Bucks, who led by double digits for much of the night before the Warriors cut it to a point a couple of times.

The Bucks had an answer each time. Monroe was 11 of 16, including a 3-point play with 2 minutes 51 seconds left for a 12-point lead.

Michael Carter-Williams, who had 17 points off the bench for Milwaukee, made a strong drive down the lane and dunked with 42 seconds left to put an exclamation point on Milwaukee’s night.

“We never wavered,” Monroe said.

Bucks fans at the packed Bradley Center erupted with cheers after the final buzzer. A raucous Bucks cheering section proved prophetic after wearing green “24-1” shirts to the game.

“We showed some spurts to get back into the game,” Curry said. “We got some stops, but for 48 minutes, I don’t think anybody can say we played as hard as they did.”

Saturday’s loss also ended an emerging debate over how to calculate the Warriors’ winning streak. Some were inclined to include the four straight games the Warriors won at the end of the 2014-15 regular season; others, with a more purist view, thought the streak should be measured in terms of games from the current season only. Counting the four games from the end of last season, the Warriors won 28 regular-season games in a row, which would top the 27 straight won by the Miami Heat in 2013, the second most after the Lakers’ streak.

In any case, Saturday night’s defeat was the Warriors’ first in a game that counted since they lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the N.B.A. finals on June 9. The Warriors won the next three games against Cleveland to clinch the championship.

Then came the 24 victories to start this season, a record start. Now the Warriors head home, to face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

“There’s no reason for anyone to hang their heads in that locker room for losing that game,” Walton said. “They’ve been incredible all year, and the losses are going to come.”

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant Lead Thunder Over Bucks

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Suns guard Eric Bledsoe after tearing cartilage in his left knee in the first half of a loss to the 76ers in Phoenix on Saturday.

Credit
David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press

Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals to lead the Thunder to a 131-123 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points and had 8 assists and 6 rebounds for the Thunder, and Enes Kanter contributed 23 points and 8 rebounds.

Westbrook and Durant both scored more than 20 points for the 25th time this season as Oklahoma City overcame an early 8-point deficit to win for the 11th time in 14 games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee jumped ahead on the outside shooting of Khris Middleton and led by as many as 8 in the first quarter before the Thunder went on a 7-0 run to end the period. The rookie Cameron Payne, who had a career-high 16 points, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the Oklahoma City deficit to 31-30.

Kanter led a run midway through the second period to give the Thunder the lead for good, scoring back-to-back baskets to put them up by 3. They expanded it to 11 at halftime, 65-54.

HAWKS 121, ROCKETS 115 Al Horford had 30 points and 14 rebounds, and Paul Millsap had 22 points and 17 rebounds as Atlanta rallied to victory in Houston.

The Hawks trailed by 19 early in the game but outscored the Rockets by 13 in the final quarter. Kent Bazemore added 26 points for Atlanta, and Jeff Teague had 22.

Dwight Howard led Houston with 30 points and 16 rebounds, while James Harden had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Clint Capela contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Atlanta took a lead late in the fourth quarter and employed the hacking strategy, intentionally fouling Howard and Capela repeatedly.

The Hawks, who scored the final 9 points, won for the seventh time in eight games.

GRIZZLIES 99, HEAT 90 Marc Gasol scored 7 of his 23 points in overtime, and Memphis overcame visiting Miami.

Zach Randolph added 17 points for the Grizzlies. Mike Conley and Jeff Green each scored 16, and Mario Chalmers had 12.

Chris Bosh led the Heat with 22 points. Dwyane Wade scored 19, and Goran Dragic had 16 points.

The game was tied, 83-83, at the end of regulation.

CAVALIERS 93, NUGGETS 87 LeBron James had 34 points, Kevin Love snared 14 rebounds, and Cleveland held on to win in Denver.

Will Barton had 29 points and 7 rebounds for the Nuggets, who trailed by 11 at halftime but could not rally to victory.

BLEDSOE OUT FOR SEASON Eric Bledsoe, the Phoenix Suns’ leading scorer, will not return this season after he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Bledsoe, 26, was injured in the team’s home loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. He was averaging 20.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.

In a shake-up of Coach Jeff Hornacek’s staff, the team fired the assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting on Monday.

OPERATION FOR JAZZ GUARD The Utah Jazz confirmed that guard Alec Burks was scheduled to have surgery Tuesday.

Burks decided to have the operation in hope of an accelerated recovery from a broken left fibula sustained Saturday. The team originally said he would not have surgery, but the procedure should allow Burks to place weight on his leg after two weeks and begin rehabilitation sooner.

Bucks extend GM John Hammond's contract

Jason Kidd arrived last summer to take over as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, and conventional wisdom was that general manager John Hammond’s days were numbered.

Think again.

Instead those numbers were lengthened Monday when team ownership gave Hammond a one-year contract extension, through the 2016-’17 season.

Hammond and Kidd now each have two years remaining on their deals with the team as the Bucks try to build with a young core group and become a true Eastern Conference contender. Owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry said last summer they would evaluate all aspects of the organization in their first season, and Hammond passed the test.

Hammond said Monday he never thought he had to make a huge adjustment in his role after Kidd’s arrival.

“I believe there’s a great amount of respect Jason and I have for each other,” Hammond said. “It’s been a very good and positive work experience.

“There was no change whatsoever. I continued to do my job the same as I always have. It was as matter of two people getting to know each other on a professional level.”

The 61-year-old Hammond will be entering his eighth season with the franchise in a few weeks, when the Bucks gather to open training camp in Madison on Sept. 29. He said there is plenty of work to do.

“We’re still a long ways from where we want to be,” Hammond said. “We’ve been an on-again, off-again playoff team. Especially with our new ownership, the goal is to build an elite team.”

Hammond was hired as general manager by the Bucks in 2008 after serving in the front office under Joe Dumars in Detroit. He was named the NBA executive of the year during the 2009-’10 season, when the Bucks finished 46-36 under coach Scott Skiles. Milwaukee has reached the playoffs in three seasons under Hammond, including the past season.

But the Bucks still have not won a playoff series since the 2000-’01, season when they reached the Eastern Conference finals under George Karl. They have lost seven consecutive playoff series. And in Hammond’s tenure the franchise has just one winning record during the regular season.

In the first year of the Hammond-Kidd partnership, the Bucks went 41-41 last season — making a 26-game improvement over the previous year — and were seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Chicago Bulls, 4-2, in a first-round playoff series.

Milwaukee landed elite free-agent center Greg Monroe this summer and is building around a young core that includes Monroe, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams and John Henson. Monroe turned down offers from the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers to sign a three-year, $50 million contract with the Bucks.

“A great deal of our team’s success and progress is due to the vision and hard work of John,” Edens said in a statement. “He’s assembled a talented and competitive roster and we’re very pleased that he will continue to lead basketball operations.”

Hammond gives Kidd credit for changing the culture of the franchise in a short period.

“We took a step in that direction, and the step we took was really due to Jason and his work ethic,” Hammond said. “You follow that with the coaching staff and it filtered down to the players. It came down to very hard work.

“Obviously it wasn’t hard to recognize he had it, the ability to be a good coach in this league. His future as a coach in this league is unlimited.”

The Bucks chose not to retain assistant general manager David Morway. Morway spent the past two years with Milwaukee and previously served as general manager of the Indiana Pacers.

Kidd was hired as coach by owners Edens and Lasry in the summer of 2014, in a move even Hammond did not know about. The former NBA all-star point guard left Brooklyn after just one season as the Nets coach and agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract with the Bucks.

Hammond drafted Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft and followed by selecting Parker with the No. 2 pick in 2014. Parker had his rookie season cut short when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in December, but he is a key part of the Bucks’ building plans.

In the draft this summer the Bucks chose freshman Rashad Vaughn, a guard from Nevada-Las Vegas, with the 17th pick. Hammond traded to acquire point guard Greivis Vasquez from Toronto, giving the Bucks a veteran to pair with Carter-Williams at that position. The Bucks traded veterans Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia to free up salary space.

Kidd has exerted significant input in Bucks personnel decisions as he and Hammond have been able to work together to build the roster.

“If you go around 30 teams in the NBA, very few of those decisions are made in a vacuum,” Hammond said. “Most every team in the league has a minimum of two voices in decisions like this (on trades and draft picks). Those are going to be attached to me; that’s my job as the GM.

“I have to attach myself to those and live with those decisions.”

One major move Hammond made was to trade Brandon Jennings to Detroit in the summer of 2013, the deal that brought Brandon Knight and Middleton to Milwaukee.

Knight improved his game in 11/2 seasons with the Bucks but was traded to Phoenix in February in the deal that brought Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee, while Middleton emerged last season as a go-to scorer for the Bucks. Middleton signed a five-year, $70 million contract extension during the summer.