By JANIE McCAULEY – AP sportswriter
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Klay Thompson has been waiting for his shot to fall consistently, and he’s certainly found a groove for Golden State against defending champion Milwaukee.
He hasn’t forced it and plans to build on that as he continues to learn during his comeback season. Grinning, he said he wanted to score 40 points, that just sounds better, but 38 was great.
Thompson’s overall score was his best season and he triumphantly raised his right arm to ignite the home crowd while leading the Warriors 122-109 past the Bucks on Saturday night.
“I was looking forward to a night like this,” Thompson said, “but a mid-season slump isn’t going to blow my ego, I’m still going to go out and compete.”
Thompson shot 15 for 24 with eight 3-pointers and had his second 30-point performance since returning Jan. 9 after a 21/2-year absence following knee and Achilles tendon surgery.
“I’m sure it’s a relief,” said coach Steve Kerr. “He’s so hard on himself and really wants to be successful.”
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Milwaukee native Jordan Poole returned to the Golden State starting lineup and had 30 points with five 3-pointers left, six rebounds and five assists.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and eight rebounds, but the Warriors’ defense held off the rest of the Bucks. Milwaukee had won six times in a row.
This was a bad night for Milwaukee on the injury front.
New forward DeAndre’ Bembry, who was only signed last month when the Nets waived him, injured his right knee and was led to the dressing room at 2:31 in the third quarter. He went down hard on the touchline and jumped to defend Poole’s 3-point attempt.
Bembry got an MRI scan.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what that looks like,” said coach Mike Budenholzer. “…It felt like tonight was one of those nights where Klay was going to make some shots that were tough and defended well. His offense and shooting were just better than what we could defend. credit to him. He had a great night.”
Serge Ibaka received stitches in the first half for a laceration in his right eye after injuring himself in the first quarter. He returned briefly and scored 15 points.
The Warriors opened the first 1:58 of the third quarter with an 11-0 sprint to take a 78-58 lead before Antetokounmpo’s basket landed at the 9:43 mark.
Andrew Wiggins added 21 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Warriors. Poole started for the second time in his last 13 games and shot 9 of 16 while Stephen Curry had eight points and eight assists with just seven shots.
“It’s crazy when an MVP only has eight points and we still win against a really, really, really good team,” said Poole.
Golden State held Milwaukee at 41.3% from the floor with Khris Middleton on 3 of 11 in the first half before ending with 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting. The bucks were 17 out of 44 from the deep.
Sophomore center James Wiseman will play his second game with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors at home at the Chase Center on Sunday, and Kerr can’t wait to see it live.
Wiseman, who has been recovering from right knee surgery all season, also played at Stockton on Thursday, scoring 18 points in 7-for-13 shooting and followed by six rebounds in Santa Cruz’s 109-99 loss .
“I was so happy to see him the other night,” Kerr said. “I watched the video and he just looked happy. He looked excited and was moving well. It’s been a long 11 months for him. Excited for James that he’s back on his feet. He deserves it.”
Kerr spoke to Wiggins about his recent free-throw struggles as the All-Star made his only two Saturdays.
“It was hard missing so many,” Wiggins said. “I can shoot. I know it’s going to be good.”
He’s been 4 of 16 off the line since the All-Star break came into play.
“The important thing is that this happens to everyone, maybe not Steph,” Kerr said.
Bucks: Milwaukee had just one turnover in the first half but was passed 33-17, in part given Golden State’s 49% shot rate. The Bucks were dominated on boards 55-39 overall. … George Hill (neck pain), Pat Connaughton (right finger surgery), Lindell Wigginton (right ankle sprain) and Brook Lopez are still missing.
Krieger: F. Draymond Green, who has been sidelined since early January with a back calf injury, is “still on pace for Monday,” Kerr said. “He struggled today.” His 5-year-old son, Draymond Jr., again served as the towel boy near the team bench. … F Otto Porter Jr. missed a fourth straight game because of a seasonal illness. He fought on Saturday and is expected to play on Monday.” “He’s feeling a lot better,” said Kerr…G Gary Payton II sat back down with pain in his left knee.
Bucks: In Utah on Monday night.
Warriors: host Washington on Monday night.
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