Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis Jr., left, and center Brook Lopez during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Saturday, March 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry knocked down all the dazzling shots everybody has come to expect from him in crunch time night after night — and then a surprising block at the rim that mattered just as much or maybe even more.
Curry scored 36 points with 22 of those in the fourth quarter and overtime, shining in his first home game back from a long injury absence and leading the Golden State Warriors past the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks 125-116 on Saturday night.
Curry hit a tying 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in regulation, then blocked a layup attempt by Jrue Holiday in the closing moments.
“He came out of nowhere. Jrue had a straight line drive to the rim,” Draymond Green said.
The Warriors got the ball back with 1.9 seconds remaining and Curry inbounded to Green, who missed from deep though he thought for sure it was “cash.”
Holiday had put Milwaukee up on a 3 with 32.7 seconds to play and wound up with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. But the Bucks (48-19), playing without star Giannis Antetokounmpo, had their three-game winning streak snapped with just their second defeat in 21 games since Jan. 21.
“I loved this game. I thought we competed the entire time,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought we were really solid for most of the night.”
Curry’s 3 with 1:08 remaining in regulation got Golden State within 108-106. A steal by Klay Thompson on the other end moments later led to a tying layup by Curry before Holiday delivered.
“Overtime and fourth quarter, he got away from us a little bit,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Curry. “Some of them were high level.”
Thompson added 22 points, Donte DiVincenzo had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Warriors won at home for the seventh in a row and 11th in 12.
Curry loved making a difference on the defensive end.
“To hit a couple big shots down the stretch and then find yourself in a position where you can make a play on the other side, it gives everybody a good boost because it’s shocking,” Curry said. “I think I got more about that in the locker room than any shot I made tonight, which speaks for itself.”
Khris Middleton had 19 points and five assists, Bobby Portis contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds and Brook Lopez 19 points, seven boards and five blocks.
Bucks leading scorer and rebounder Antetokounmpo missed his second straight game with right hand soreness and third overall after sitting out March 7 with a non-COVID illness.
Golden State used a 16-4 burst out of halftime to go ahead 66-53 but the Bucks fought back to get within 80-77 heading into the fourth.
Green went down hard and limped to the locker room midway through the third quarter before returning with 38.7 seconds left. While cutting through the key, Green’s left foot got tangled with Holiday’s right leg and Green tripped and rolled his ankle.
While sore, “I will 100% expect to play,” Green said of Monday’s game with Phoenix.
Green finished with five points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and Golden State shot better from beyond the arc (41.8%) than it did inside (40.4%).
Curry returned March 5 at the Lakers from a left leg injury suffered Feb. 4 that sidelined him for 11 games. He played on the team’s three-game road trip.
DiVincenzo has learned that anything Curry lets fly has a chance.
“It’s super fun to watch,” he said. “Sometimes when it leaves his hand I’m like, ‘No way.'”
Thompson presented soon-to-be 16-year-old Braulio Noriega with a birthday surprise: a custom-basketball wheelchair. Noriega had his left leg amputated from above the knee because of cancer as a 6-year-old.
The teen hopes to compete playing wheelchair basketball in college and eventually in his home country of Mexico.
“I can’t even describe how I felt,” an overjoyed Noriega said. “… There’s so much emotional energy from him.”
Bucks: Milwaukee shot just 9 of 25 on 3s in the first half to 10 for 24 by the Warriors. Allen missed his initial five and shot 2 of 9 overall. … The Bucks managed just seven offensive rebounds to the Warriors’ 18.
Warriors: JaMychal Green scored 11 of his 18 points in the first quarter for Golden State making three 3-pointers. … Golden State had 33 assists — its 35th game with 30 or more to tie the Nuggets for most in the NBA. … G Moses Moody was recalled from the G League Santa Cruz Warriors and grabbed four rebounds in six minutes as the Warriors held a 65-48 advantage on the boards.
Bucks: Visit Sacramento on Monday night riding a 13-game winning streak against the Kings.
Warriors: Host the Suns on Monday night having lost the last two in the series at home.
NEW YORK — Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 40 points and Julius Randle had 26 as the New York Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 137-115 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night.
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