What happened to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday has not happened to them in over 15 years.
In a 103-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls that snapped a four-game winning streak, no Warriors in the starting lineup scored in double-figures. The last time that occurred was two days before Valentine’s Day in 1999. The starters that night against the Utah Jazz were Jason Caffey, Chris Mills, Erick Dampier, John Starks and Muggsy Bogues.
Let’s fast forward back to 2014. Jermaine O’Neal came closest to double-figures with nine points. Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson were next with eight points. Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala scored five points apiece.
The lack of offensive production by the starting five might be surprising. What's not surprising is that this happened against Chicago. The Bulls' suffocating defense came into the game ranked second in both opponent scoring (92.5) and field goal percentage (0.433).
What compounded matters for the Warriors was that the Bulls, the league’s lowest scoring team (92.8), cranked up their offense after a terrible first quarter. After shooting 25 percent in the opening 12 minutes, Chicago shot 50 percent in the next two quarters, scoring 59 points in the process. The Warriors scored just 35 points on 30 percent shooting.
Taj Gibson led Chicago (31-26) in scoring with 21 points. Jimmy Butler returned from a two-game absence (rib contusion) with 16 points. Carlos Boozer and former Warrior Mike Dunleavy each had 15 points. Joakim Noah had eight points and a game-high 17 rebounds. The Bulls were coming off a four-point victory on Tuesday over the Hawks in Atlanta.
Jordan Crawford led Golden State (35-23) with 16 points, but 12 came in a meaningless fourth quarter. David Lee returned from his own two-game absence (stomach flu) with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. It was the first relief appearance by Lee in a Warriors’ uniform. Harrison Barnes added 11 points.
The Warriors were up 24-18 late in the first quarter when Tony Snell hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left. It was the start of a 22-5 run that saw the Bulls take a 40-29 lead with 6:31 left. Chicago led 59-45 at halftime.
“The second quarter really hurt us,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “They scored 34, 35 points. That’s a team that doesn’t push the pace. We turned the basketball over and they created some separation.”
The Bulls converted 16 of 19 free throws in the first half. The Warriors made five of eight.
Golden State made a brief run in the second half, cutting the lead to eight with eight minutes left in the third quarter. But the Bulls, who blew a 15-point lead against the Warriors and lost by 15 earlier in the season, would not allow a comeback this time. Chicago scored eight straight points and their frustrating defense did not let up, extending the advantage to as many as 28 in the fourth quarter.
Chicago dominated in every key category.
The Bulls shot 44.6 percent to the Warriors’ 35.7 percent. Curry, Thompson and Iguodala combined to shoot 6 of 26.
Chicago outrebounded Golden State 56-41, including 16-9 on offensive rebounds. Noah and Boozer combined for 10 by themselves. The Bulls gave up just five offensive rebounds in the final three quarters, denying second-chances for the Warriors to atone for their poor shooting.
The Bulls converted 16 turnovers into 19 points. The Warriors converted 16 turnovers into 13 points.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” said Jackson. “We turned the basketball over. They hurt us on the offensive boards. They outworked us tonight. Disappointing. We need to make sure one doesn’t turn into two. We need to make sure we bounce back from this one."
Lee, who had started concurred with his coach.
“It was just one of those nights,” said Lee. “We got outplayed at all five positions, both the starters and the bench. Unfortunately, you have those nights in the NBA. The important thing is to keep our heads up and get ready for the next game.”
Chicago won for the first time trailing after the first quarter. The Bulls are 16-0 when leading after one and had been 0-10 when trailing.
The Warriors are 0-6 when scoring under 85 points and have lost their fifth straight at the United Center.
“They had, I believe, 37 points off turnovers and second-chance points combined,” said Jackson. “On the road, that’s not going to win ball games and it hurt us tonight.”
The Warriors sit seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Dallas Mavericks and one-and-a-half games ahead of the Phoenix Suns.