The amazing winning streak that the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors have been on has been nothing short of remarkable. They have answered every challenge put up by their opponent’s and remained unblemished for 28 straight games dating back to last season. The question was, who was going to be the team to end this streak. That answer came 72 hours ago in the Midwest where the team snapped the most famed winning streak in NBA history.
In their 108-95 setback at the Milwaukee Bucks (9-15), it not only gave the Warriors their first loss since Apr. 7, a 103-100 setback at the New Orleans Pelicans, it ended the Warriors 28-game winning streak, which is now the second longest winning streak in the history of the National Basketball Association.
The Bucks were led by center Greg Monroe, who had 28 points on 11 for 16 from the field, 11 rebounds and five assists. Second-year forward Jabari Parker had 19 points and seven boards; guard O.J. Mayo had 18 points. Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points, five assists and five steals and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo became the youngest player in Bucks’ history at 21 years of age to record a triple-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high10 assists. It was the first triple-double of his career.
The Warriors were led by All-Star guard and reigning league MVP Stephen Curry who had 28 points on 10 for 21 from the floor, seven boards and five assists. Forward Draymond Green had 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Back-up center Festus Ezeli had 13 points and eight boards off the bench and All-Star Klay Thompson had 12 points for the Warriors, but shot just for 4 for 14 from the field.
This was also the Warriors first setback away from Oracle Arena this season, ending their 14-game winning streak on the road to start the season. They surpassed the 1969-70 World Champion New York Knicks with their 13 consecutive road win last Tuesday, Dec. 8 when they won at the Indiana Pacers (13-9) 131-123. They only other team that went undefeated on the road for a double-digit stretch to start an NBA season are the 1960-61 and 1961-62 World Champion Boston Celtics who started those seasons 10-0.
“What they did to start this season, there’s no reason for anyone to hang their heads in that locker room for losing that game,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton, whose team shot just 40.9 percent from the floor and just 23.1 percent from three-point range on the evening, said after the game.
“They been incredible all year and the losses are going to come. We didn’t have it tonight. That’s why it is so hard to do what these guys have done so far.
To put what the Bucks did this past Saturday night into historic context, this was the sixth time in their history that they ended a double-digit winning streak by their opponent.
They ended the longest losing streak in the history of North American Professional sports (MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA) back on Jan. 9, 1972 when they defeated the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Lakers 120-104, ending their streak of 33 consecutive wins.
Eventual Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the way with 39 points. Lucius Allen scored 18. Eventual Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and John Block had 17 points each and Robert L. “Bob” Dandridge had 11 points. Another notable player on the team during this historic moment was current Bucks color analyst for FOX Sports Wisconsin, who works alongside play-by-play man Jim Paschke and has done so for the last 25 years.
The Lakers were led by “The Logo” and eventual Hall of Famer Jerry West, who had 20 points. Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich, the late Harold “Happy” Hairston and Jim McMillan had 18 points each. The late great Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlin had 15 points. Another notable player in this contest for the Lakers was Hall of Fame head coach, eight-time World Champion as a coach and executive Pat Riley, the President of the Miami Heat.
The Bucks also ended the 12-game winning streak of the eventual NBA champions of 1973, the Celtics; the 14-game winning streak of the eventual World Champion Philadelphia 76ers of 1983 led by Hall of Famers Moses Malone, Julius “Dr. J.” Erving and Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones and Maurice Cheeks; The 13 consecutive of the eventual 2007 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the 12-game winning streak of the 2007 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
Besides the strong play by the underachieving Bucks this past Saturday night, the Warriors had a few other things not in their favor.
They played a double-overtime game the night before at the TD Garden against the Boston Celtics, who gave them everything they can handle and were able to hold on 124-119.
The Warriors played that contest without Thompson, who was out with a sprained right ankle that he sustained in the final moments of their victory at the Pacers last Wednesday night and starting small forward Harrison Barnes was absent again because of sprained ankle.
Curry played 47 minutes and scored 38 points with 11 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, but shot just 9 for 27 from the field, but made 6 of 13 from three-point range and 14 for 14 from the charity stripe. Green in 50 minutes had 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five block shots, becoming the first player since Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon back on Dec. 30, 1993 to register at least 20 points, 10 boards, five assists, five steals and five blocks in a game.
The Warrior reserves who have been big the past two seasons, came through big in this contest. Finals MVP of a season ago Andre Iguodala had 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 44 minutes. Ezeli had 12 points and 12 boards and Shaun Livingston also had 12 points.
Despite shooting just 39.3 percent from the field, including just 29 (9-31) percent from behind the three-point line and had 18 turnovers that resulted in 21 Celtic points, the Warriors won a game that featured 16 ties and 22 lead changes because they shot 31 for 39 from the charity stripe; garnered 67 rebounds, including 17 on the offensive end; had 28 assists, 10 steals, 11 blocks, outscored the Celtics in the paint 58-52 and held them to 43 percent shooting.
Those minutes caught up with the defending champs the next night as the Bucks outscored the Warriors in three of the four quarters, especially in the fourth to the tune of 28-18.
The Bucks held the Warriors to just 40.9 percent from the field and to 23.1 percent (6 for 26) from three-point land. Outscored them in the paint 60-56; stayed close on the boards to the tune of 47-44 and in fast break points 21-20; forced 17 turnovers that resulted in 24 points and had 31 assists to the Warriors 23.
On top of everything else, the Bucks became the first team to hold the No. 1 scoring team in the NBA at 115.3 points per contest under the century mark for the first time this season.
“We missed a lot of shots that we would make, but you got to give them a lot of credit,” Green said after the game.
“They were swarming all over the place. You give them some credit and we got to just make the plays we normally make.”
I remember something that NBATV/NBA on TNT analyst and co-host of “Inside the NBA” on TNT Kenny Smith said a couple of weeks back about the Warriors is that their first setback will come due to the fact that the Warriors will have one of those nights where things just did not go their way.
That night was this past weekend where their jumpers were not falling, especially in the first period where they shot 2 for 10 from downtown. On top of that, the Bucks, who also played the night before in losing at the Toronto Raptors (16-9) 90-83, were quicker to lose balls, played with high energy, took the ball to the basket purpose time and time again and Monroe had a great game scoring inside against the likes of Andrew Bogut and Ezeli.
The one thing that should be taken from this is that this loss came in game No. 25, which is something Green made clear after the game when asked is this loss tougher than sustaining one in the postseason.
“Nowhere near the same. Not even close,” Green said last Saturday night.
“It just feels like a loss. A feeling we haven’t experienced in a while, but it doesn’t feel like a playoff loss. I can tell you that.”
At the end of the days, this streak of 28 straight wins, which is second only to the aforementioned Lakers consecutive run of 33 in succession will be something that fans of the Bay Area and the country will remember for a long time. It was great and exciting, especially the fact that the team did this with their head coach Steve Kerr not with the team recovering from back surgery this past off-season.
They brought a level of excitement wherever they played. It got to the point that fans showed up early just to see Curry warm up. The Warriors made the games they played in the dog days of November and December must see television.
This streak was eventually going to end and it came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015.
Right now for the Warriors, it is about getting healthy, recharged and refocused because they want to do something that the aforementioned teams that saw their winning streaks ends at the hands of the Bucks, win a title. In the case of the Warriors, win back-to-back titles.
Information, statistics and quotes are courtesy of www.espn.go.com/nba/team/schedule/_/name/mil; www.espn.go.com/nba/team/schedule/_/name/gs; www.espn.go.com/nba/standings; 12/12/15 9 a.m. edition NBATV’s “Gametime,” presented by KIA with Rick Kamla, Steve Smith and Dennis Scott; Vince Cellini, Grant Hill and Mike Fratello; 12/14/15 2 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” presented by KIA with Matt Winer, Rick Fox and Mike Fratello; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_McGlocklin; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dandridge; Official 2006-07 Sporting News NBA Guide-2005-06 Review/2006-07 Preview.