After six games on the shelf with a rib injury, Kevin Durant returned to the Golden State Warriors for Thursday night’s nationally televised matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. He didn’t stick around very long, though.
KD just got himself ejected after getting two technical fouls. pic.twitter.com/MqaLhIlm9Y
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 30, 2018
With the seconds winding down in the second quarter and the visiting Bucks holding a 56-49 lead, Durant drove to his left looking for a basket that would cut into Golden State’s deficit. As he moved through the paint defended by Antetokounmpo with some help from center John Henson, Durant took what looked to be clear contact on the play, hitting the deck along the baseline after missing his layup try. No foul was called, though, and teammate Kevon Looney rebounded the miss before kicking it back out to reset the possession.
Play continued, with Warriors point guard Quinn Cook working his way to a pull-up jumper from the foul line that missed. As he did so, Durant — who had come away from at least one earlier drive through contact without a foul call, too — just completely abandoned the play, walking out of bounds over to referee Tre Maddox to ask why he didn’t get the benefit of the whistle after the drive. He asked very aggressively, and, evidently, he used some magic words in the process, prompting Maddox to quickly hit Durant with a pair of technicals and give him the gate.
Crew chief Bill Kennedy's official statement on Kevin Durant's ejection tonight: pic.twitter.com/u0SPOUWM44
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) March 30, 2018
“I got fouled, and I told him how I felt about it, and he kicked me out,” Durant said with a smile after the game. “Pretty simple […] I felt like earlier in the game, too, I was going to the rim, there was an easy call they missed. That was the second one I felt like they should have called. It happens. It happens when you let your emotions get into it. I definitely wish I could have finished the game out, but I’ll be in practice tomorrow, and I’ll be ready for the next game.”
Durant had scored 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting in his first action in two weeks, to go with six assists and three rebounds in 17 minutes before his ejection. He’d also committed four turnovers, though, leading the Warriors in that ignominious category as they coughed it up 15 times in the first half, leading to 21 Bucks points that helped Milwaukee take a 58-49 lead into intermission.
The outburst was nothing new for the just-returned KD:
And Kevin Durant is now at 14 technicals, two away from getting a one-game suspension
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 30, 2018
Durant is now at 14 technicals, one behind Draymond and tied with former teammate Russell Westbrook.
— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) March 30, 2018
Kevin Durant's ejections by season his 11 years
5 this season
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 30, 2018
Kevin Durant has now been ejected an NBA-high 5 times this season.
The only player with more over the last 25 seasons is Rasheed Wallace (7 in 1999-00 and 2000-01). pic.twitter.com/c3f0F5h7QG
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2018
I will say that going to the ref during play — as Durant did — is an automatic technical and if you do anything more it's often an ejection.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) March 30, 2018
KD's gotta chill.
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 30, 2018
His inability to do so, while understandable given what sure looked like a blown no-call, was mighty unfortunate for a Warriors team that had planned to run just about everything through its returning All-Star forward with All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson still sidelined. Instead, Golden State was left to rely on a roster full of savvy passers, few of whom can reliably create their own shots, which seems like a recipe for disaster against a long-limbed Bucks team that spent much of the first half feasting on off-target Warrior passes.
That, for the most part, didn’t work out for the Dubs, who trailed by as many as 24 in the second half, as Giannis and company kept the pressure on. The Warriors made a late push to get within 11 with a minute and a half left, thanks in large part to the scorching Cook, who finished with a team-high 30 points on 12-for-15 shooting, including a perfect 5-for-5 mark from 3-point range, as he continues to make his push for a spot on the postseason roster. But a 3-pointer by Khris Middleton with 41 seconds left slammed the door, as the Bucks finished off a 116-107 win.
Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting in the win, while Middleton added 23 and Eric Bledsoe chipped in 20 with six assists for the eighth-seeded Bucks, who improved to 40-35, a half-game behind the No. 7 Miami Heat and one game back of the No. 6 Washington Wizards. The Warriors, on the other hand, dropped their third straight game — the first time that’s happened all season — to fall to 54-21. That means the best the Warriors can finish is 61-21, and that means that the Houston Rockets — who already have 61 wins, and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Golden State — just clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and home-court advantage.
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