The Golden State Warriors are not just back to being themselves. They are back to their championship self.
After suffering a 113-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons last Saturday, the Warriors responded by embarrassing two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Stephen Curry scored 25 points and the NBA Champions laid the smackdown on the Chicago Bulls with a 125-94 victory on Wednesday night. The demolition derby at the United Center came on the heels of Monday’s 132-98 drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“They got embarrassed by Detroit kicking our butts,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “They kind of refocused and locked in. The last two games have been great.”
Klay Thompson had 20 points, Harrison Barnes added 19 and Golden State (39-4) shot 52.6 percent against Chicago, which came in ranked number one in opponent field goal percentage (.423). The Warriors finished with 38 assists on 50 field goals and just 10 turnovers.
“Very thrilled with the way our guys played,” Walton said. “Our bench scored 49 points. We had 38 assists and just 10 turnovers. That’s beautiful basketball against a team that is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.”
“They played the right way,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They moved. They cut. They are skilled. All five guys out there can make a play. it’s a team when you are not playing them, it’s really fun to watch. They played basketball the right way and the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Derrick Rose led Chicago (24-17) with 29 points. Jimmy Butler scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half. Bobby Portis and E’Twaun Moore came off the bench with 16 and 13 points, respectively. It was a vintage performance from Rose.
Rose nailed his first four shots and scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the game’s opening five minutes. When he went to the bench with 6:12 left in the first quarter, the Bulls trailed by just two. When Rose stepped back onto the court to start the second quarter, the Warriors had built a 16-point lead.
“Derrick was great,” Hoiberg said. “Derrick was real good coming out and was attacking. He was carrying us on offense. He got tired pretty quick with the energy he was putting in out there. He needed a blow and things went south for us pretty quick.”
“D Rose was tremendous tonight,” Draymond Green said. “He looked like that guy we all used to watch. When he’s like that, he’s tough to stop. We did a good job on him. He just made plays.”
However, Rose received no support from his teammates the entire game. Tony Snell, Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol started for the Bulls and combined for just seven points on 3-of-22 shooting. Gasol was held to without a field goal for just the third time in his illustrious career. The Bulls shot 37 percent for the game and just 1-of-20 (.005) from 3-point range.
Chicago got the deficit down to 11 midway through the third quarter. Barnes hit a turnaround jumper and Thompson followed with a 3-pointer to take the advantage back to 16. The Bulls got back to within 12, but the Warriors ended the quarter on a 14-2 run that extinguished any comeback hopes for the home team. Curry started the charge with a 3-pointer and ended it with a rare left-handed dunk.
“It’s been tremendous,” Green said of the last two games. “The things we said we needed to get back to, we’ve done. We just got to continue to build on that.”
Despite the score, there were a few hairy moments for the Warriors. Andrew Bogut sprained his back in the second quarter. Green was hit in the face/orbital area early in the second half. Both Bogut and Green would return. Bogut finished with six points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Green had six points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Curry also escaped serious injury when he was fouled by Rose on a 3-point attempt late in the second quarter. Rose flew out to defend the shot and tumbled into Curry. Fortunately, Curry’s legs had already left the floor and it appeared as if Rose actually got the worst of the collision. Curry went on to sink all three free throws and finished with 11 assists, seven rebounds, two steals and a block.
The Warriors return home to start a three-game homestand, including the long-awaited first matchup with the San Antonio Spurs next Monday night. The Spurs are 36-6 and trailed Golden State by 2.5 games in the Western Conference.
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 40-3
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 39-4