MILWAUKEE -- For a half, the Milwaukee Bucks didn't just hang with the red-hot Golden State Warriors, they matched them and at times even outperformed them.
Repeat -- for a half.
After halftime, the Warriors turned a two-point game into a blowout in the blink of an eye and coasted for a 101-80 victory Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The win was Golden State's 10th in row and made the Warriors 6-0 on their current trip.
It was the Bucks' third consecutive loss, and it left coach Larry Drew wondering how to turn things around.
"The first half we did some really good things -- we didn't give up a fast-break point the first half," Drew said. "The second half we had a breakdown. That's the discouraging thing for me. As far as our game plan we were on the money the first half. Then we come out the second half and we just revert back to old habits."
The Bucks arguably outplayed the Warriors in the first half outside of a weak 6-minute stretch in the second quarter with mostly bench players on the court. Milwaukee forced 12 turnovers and gave the ball away only twice before halftime and didn't allow a single fast-break point to a Golden State team that likes to run the floor.
Outside of David Lee, the Bucks kept the Warriors under wraps for the opening 24 minutes.
One of the most impressive players in the first half was Ersan Ilyasova. The Bucks forward shook off his 0-for-20 slump from behind the three-point arc by going 2 for 5 and netted 12 of his team-high 20 points as the Bucks trailed the fourth-best team in the Western Conference only 50-48 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, though, what had been a two-point deficit ballooned to double digits. Just over 3 minutes after that, the Bucks trailed by 20.
"That was the whole message at the end of the first half, 'Start the third quarter with energy,'" Drew said. "And we came out and we were flat-lined.
"Right now we're just a team that, we just don't know how to win. We do things the first half that were good to us, where we were successful and then we come back in the second half and we revert to our old ways."
As it has been many times this season, the players in the Bucks' locker room echoed Drew's mantra that a lack of energy was the team's downfall, especially in the second half.
"When you need energy, it's a total team thing," said Brandon Knight, who had 18 points. "You can't have one or two guys bring the energy. It has to be all five guys on the court. I just think we have to do a better job of making sure it's not one or two guys, but that we have everybody playing with as much energy as we can."
Speaking of energy, Lee had plenty for the Warriors. Golden State's power forward was all over the court, scoring 22 points and pulling down 18 rebounds. He also made all nine of his shots in the first three quarters.
"David Lee is one of our most important inside players," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. "He's got an unbelievable touch. He can go to both hands.
"I'm doing the dirty work down there and he's reaping the rewards, which I don't mind doing at this point in my career. He's a very talented scorer on the block so I try to create as much space as I can for him down there."
Lee's dominant performance made up for a lackluster showing from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined for 30 points on just 11-for-36 shooting. Curry had an especially tough night, turning the ball over seven times.
As bad as things got for the Bucks, the Warriors gave them ample opportunities to come back. After shooting 30 for 50 to open the game, Golden State faltered down the stretch, going just 9 for 34.
Instead of whittling away at the deficit, the Bucks shot 4 for 16 in the fourth quarter, scoring just 12 points. Overall, Milwaukee shot 30 percent in the second half as the Warriors set a season-low by allowing 32 second-half points.
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