The second game was almost the polar opposite of the first. When Chicago came to Oakland 20 days ago, the Warriors fell behind by 13 at the end of a terrible first quarter before outscoring the Bulls 34-17 in the second, eventually going on to win 102-87 thanks to 34 points (13-of-23 shooting) and nine assists by Stephen Curry.
The Warriors led by three after the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game in Chicago thanks to some outstanding defense, then the Bulls beat the Warriors 34-21 in the second quarter and cruised to a 103-83 win.
“The second quarter really hurt us. They scored 34 or 35 points. That’s a team that doesn’t push the pace, but we turned the basketball over and that created some separation. This is a tough loss for us,” Mark Jackson said.
How did Golden State’s win streak get snapped at four? Look no further than Curry’s stat line: five points (2-of-10 FG), five assists, no steals and five turnovers. The Bulls are led by perhaps the brightest defensive mind in the NBA in Tom Thibodeau, and they had a plan to stop Curry (trap him, knock him around) that they executed with near-perfection.
Not that anyone else on the Warriors — who shot 35.7% as a team — helped either.
Andre Iguodala went 1-for-8 from the field. Andrew Bogut went 4-for-5, but still looked rusty with four turnovers. He also fumbled away a few loose balls that weren’t counted as turnovers but usually would’ve been secured by the Warriors center. After giving it away fewer than 15 times in each of their first four games after the All-Star Break, Golden State committed 15 turnovers in the first three quarters of this game.
Not coincidentally, the Warriors were behind by 21 points after three quarters.
Put simply, the Bulls played exactly the way they wanted to. They kept the Warriors from running — something that seems a little too easy to do unless the Warriors are getting steals in the open floor — and they pushed the Warriors around on both ends.
“If you don’t come out and play to the same level as these teams are playing at, you’re going to get beat,” said Jermaine O’Neal.
The Warriors got maybe two or three easy shots before garbage time. Chicago destroyed them on the offensive boards. The defensive-minded Bulls knocked Curry and the other perimeter players around as they cut through the lane, and on offense they drew contact and made 24-of-30 free throws.
The Warriors looked like the team coming in off a back-to-back, but they chilled out in Chicago yesterday while the Bulls won in Atlanta the night before.
“A disappointing loss,” Jackson said. “They hurt us on the offensive boards. They outworked us tonight.”
— Taj Gibson led all scorers with 21, three more points than Curry, Iguodala and Klay Thompson combined.
— Joakim Noah played an incredible game defensively and grabbed 17 rebounds. Noah had six offensive boards, one more than the Warriors’ starters.
— Jimmy Butler had a very solid all-around game. If he ever learns how to shoot, uh oh.
— No Warriors starter reached double-figures in points tonight, for the first time since Brian Winters was Golden State’s head coach. I’m not sure if that last part is true, but is sure sounds believable, doesn’t it?
— The lone positive might have been David Lee’s effort off the bench. He got tired as the game wore on, but 11 points and 6 rebounds was pretty impressive considering he spent time in the hospital due to the flu.
“My timing was a little off. I was definitely a little winded,” said. Lee. “20 minutes felt like 55 tonight on the court.”
— We failed in many aspects tonight,” said O’Neal, who had nine points (4-of-5 FG) and five rebounds in 16 minutes.
“We didn’t help ourselves with turnovers and quick shots. Against a team that’s well-coached that likes to control the tempo, if you don’t control the basketball it can put you in a bad way.”
— This game was similar to the 91-75 home loss to Charlotte both in terms of how the Warriors played and Draymond Green’s impact, or lack therof.
2/4 vs. CHA: 12 min, two points (0-for-6 FG), three rebounds
2/26 vs. CHI: 15 min, zero points (o-for-5 FG), two rebounds
— The bad news: Dallas (No. 6 seed) and Memphis (No. 9) won, and the Warriors are in seventh place, two games ahead of the Grizzlies.
— The good news: the Suns are down by 22 in Utah with less than five minutes to go as I finish this post. A loss would put the Suns 1.5 games behind Golden State and a half game ahead of Memphis.