By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Klay Thompson has been waiting for his shot to start falling consistently, and he certainly found a groove for Golden State against defending champion Milwaukee.
Thompson scored a season-best 38 points, raising his right arm in triumph to ignite the home crowd and leading the Warriors past the Bucks, 122-109 on Saturday night.
Thompson shot 15 for 24 with eight 3-pointers had his second 30-point performance since returning Jan. 9 from a two-year absence following knee and Achilles surgeries.
“I’m sure it’s a relief,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s so hard on himself and wants so badly to succeed.”
Milwaukee native Jordan Poole returned to Golden State’s starting lineup and scored 30 points with five 3-pointers to go with six rebounds and five assists.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and eight rebounds, but the Warriors’ defense held the rest of the Bucks down. Milwaukee had won six a row.
This was a bad night for Milwaukee on the injury front.
New forward DeAndre’ Bembry, only signed last month when the Nets waived him, injured his right knee and was helped to the locker room with 2:31 left in the third quarter. He went down hard along the sideline leaping to defend Poole’s 3-point attempt.
Bembry was getting an MRI exam.
“We just need to wait and see what that looks like,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “… It felt like tonight was one of those nights where Klay was going to make some shots that were tough, that were well-defended. His offense and his 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 right eye laceration after he was injured in the opening quarter. He briefly returned and scored 15 points.
The Warriors opened the first 1:58 of the third quarter on an 11-0 spurt to go ahead 78-58 before Antetokounmpo’s basket at the 9:43 mark.
Andrew Wiggins added 21 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Warriors. Poole started for just the second time in the past 13 games and shot 9 of 16, while Stephen Curry had eight points and eight assists taking just seven shots.
“I thought Steph was perfectly patient tonight,” Kerr said.
Golden State held Milwaukee to 41.3% from the floor, with Khris Middleton 3 of 11 in the first half before he wound up with 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting. The Bucks were 17 of 44 from deep.
Second-year center James Wiseman will play his second game with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors at home in the Chase Center on Sunday, and Kerr can’t wait to catch it live.
Wiseman, who has been out all season recovering from right knee surgery, also played Thursday at Stockton and scored 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with six rebounds in Santa Cruz’s 109-99 loss.
“I was so happy to see him the other night,” Kerr said. “I watched the tape and he just looked happy. It looked like he was excited and moving well. It’s been a long 11 months for him. Thrilled for James that he’s back on the floor. He deserves it.”
Kerr spoke to Wiggins about his free-throw struggles of late then the All-Star made his only two Saturday.
He had been 4 of 16 from the line since the All-Star break coming into the game.
“The most important thing is this happens to everybody, maybe not Steph,” Kerr said.
Bucks: Milwaukee had just one turnover in the first half but was outrebounded 33-17, partly given Golden State’s 49% shooting. The Bucks were dominated on the boards 55-39 overall. … George Hill (neck soreness), Pat Connaughton (right finger surgery), Lindell Wigginton (right ankle sprain) and Brook Lopez are still out.
Warriors: F Draymond Green, sidelined since early January with a back injury affecting his calf, is “still on pace for Monday,” Kerr said. ”He scrimmaged today.” His 5-year-old son, Draymond Jr., again served as towel boy near the team bench. … F Otto Porter Jr. missed a fourth straight game because of a seasonal illness. He scrimmaged Saturday and is expected to play Monday. “He feels a lot better,” Kerr said. … G Gary Payton II sat out again with left knee soreness.
Bucks: At Utah on Monday night.
Warriors: Host Washington on Monday night.
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