CHICAGO. Steve Kerr and Co. called the crushing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks a trifle, one game in 82, just a bad night. It took only 24 hours for these estimates to be accurate. On Friday, it was the Bulls’ turn to have a bad night.
The Golden State got a big push from rookie Jonathan Cuminga, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole to make up for the absence of Draymond Green, Clay Thompson and Gary Payton II to handily beat the Bulls 138-96, the Warriors’ best offensive record in season. .
“We were locked out right away,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We kind of needed it after losing four of our last five and breaking through last night.”
If the Warriors were humiliated by the Bucks on Thursday—Kerr called a 39-point halftime deficit humiliating—the next night they gave an equal dose to another team with playoff prospects. Milwaukee may be the defending champion, but Chicago is leading the Eastern Conference starting Friday.
The Warriors (31–11) improved to 8–4 against the top four teams in both conferences.
Golden State put together its field goal attempts with a 56.4% lead, its best shooting percentage of the season, including 19 of 42 three-point attempts, after five games in which it did not exceed 43%. worst shooting night of the season, the night before in Milwaukee.
Their 138 points were a season high. With 78 goals in the first half, the Warriors have scored more than in any other half this season (and outscored their rival the previous night by one goal). They led at half-time by 31 points and finished the game with the biggest margin of 42 points. Unlike the previous night, the Bulls did not return in the second half.
“We didn’t give up on the simple things and we controlled the game because we were aggressive,” Kerr said.
The two nights couldn’t be more different. (Even literally—Golden State became the second team in NBA history to lead by 30 points at halftime after trailing by that much at halftime.)
For the second night in a row, the Warriors’ reserves have a chance to shine after the break, with the game already decided, only on the other side on Friday.
Kuminga flew all over the court, but most often his target was the ring. The rookie showed the highlights of his young career, missing only two of his 12 shots and racking up a game-high 25 points – and some thunderous dunks.
At the end of the fourth quarter, he put an exclamation mark on him with a decisive refusal at the rim, one of three bans for the supersporting 19-year-old.
Kerr praised the second division’s uncompromising attitude towards the Bucks, diving to the floor for lost balls despite a large deficit. Against the Bulls, it was the veterans who damaged the defense.
Andre Iguodala appeared frequently on the passing lanes, finishing with four interceptions, while Otto Porter, Jr. set a career high with five. The Warriors forced a total of 14 Bulls passes — with 12 interceptions — while only passing the ball themselves seven times, another drastic departure from the previous night.
Defensive performance is made even more impressive by the absence of Draymond Green (calf tension) and Gary Payton II (low back tension). The offense worked without Clay Thompson, who missed the return leg in straight games as he relaxes after a two-season absence.
Porter started in place of Green and hit the first shot of the game, one of three straight 3-pointers early in the game that set the tone for the rest of the night.
In the backcourt, Jordan Poole returned to the starting XI for only the second time in the past month and made the most of the opportunity. He scored 22 points, second only to Kuminga, and was one of only three warriors to score at least 20 and five double figures.
With 19 points on 7 of 15 shots (4 of 10 of 3), Steph Curry somewhat solved his falling shooting problem, despite fixing his right hand in the first half from an awkward fall while trying to shoot. He stayed in the game, somewhat shaken, but didn’t let that get in the way of his shot.
It wasn’t until Friday night that the Warriors would have been fine without Curry’s help.