OAKLAND — After missing the previous six games, Kevin Durant’s return to the Golden State Warriors’ lineup lasted all of 17 minutes.
In the closing seconds of the second quarter on Thursday night, Durant went careening into the lane. Amid the traffic, an assortment of Milwaukee Bucks defenders battered the reigning Finals MVP, sending him spilling to the floor.
No foul was called. Instead of playing on, Durant popped up, walked across the baseline to bark at the referee and earned his NBA-high fifth ejection.
“I got thrown out of the basketball game, man,” Durant said. “I wish I didn’t. I wanted to play. I’m sorry. Well, I’m not sorry, but I wish could have finished the game.”
In the 116-107 loss, which sealed the Warriors’ fate as the No. 2 seed in the West, Durant’s ejection punctuated a nightmarish end to the first half.
The Bucks closed the second quarter on an 11-0 run, commanding a 59-48 advantage at the break. Head coach Steve Kerr was so perturbed by the dismissal of Durant that he followed the crew of officials off the court and down the tunnel, seemingly intent on earning the Warriors’ second ejection of the night.
“I think Kevin just had a moment,” Kerr said. “He was frustrated. He went to the rim three times. He should have had three different fouls, I thought.”
In his 17 minutes, Durant recorded 10 points (4-for-10 from the field), three rebounds and six assists.
“I think he was frustrated anyways because the game wasn’t really going well for him,” Kerr added. “So he snapped, but it happens.”
The crew chief told the pool reporter Durant’s first technical was assessed for a vulgarity. The second was added on when he “escalated” the vulgarity.
For much of the first half, Draymond Green, who, like Durant, was returning to the lineup, looked to be the one in danger of running afoul of the officials. Green frequently snarled at the refs, a risky tact considering the All-Star forward is sitting on 15 technicals. A 16th will trigger an automatic suspension, costing Green a game check of roughly $200,000.
Playing 28 minutes, Green delivered a characteristic stat line, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.
All five of the Warriors’ starters scored in double figures, including Quinn Cook, who dropped a career-high 30 points. Cook credited the returning All-Stars for his big night.
“Everything is 10 times easier than it has been the last couple games,” Cook explained. “And those two bring so much of a presence. And any basketball player, when they see the ball go in early, it helps their confidence.”
Cook has now scored at least 10 points in seven consecutive games. The G-League star-turned-Stephen Curry stand-in also contributed four rebounds and three assists.
“I think there is opportunity in every circumstance,” Kerr had said before the game. “In every bit of adversity, there is a chance to grow, and I think that’s been the case for us.”
Cook, a two-way player who can only be added to the playoff roster if the Warriors trim a player from the current 15-man squad, said the front office and coaching staff have yet to inform him about the future plans. Instead, Cook’s letting his strong play leave the Warriors’ brass with no choice but to find a spot for him.
“It’s definitely fun for me to be up here and get some attention,” Cook said. “But I’m not really worried about that. I’m just focused on locking in and staying consistent and being a great teammate.”