The comparisons between the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls have started already, and although the season is not even a full month old, there is no question that Steph Curry’s Warriors are the toughest team to face in the NBA right now. Especially when you have to meet them in Oakland. That said, the Bulls were pretty impressive, ultimately falling short in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and losing 106-94–a score that makes the game look much less close than it actually was. The Warriors won their 14th straight game to start the season, two off of the NBA record. Here’s a look at some of the key points from the matchup:
- Kirk Hinrich showed flashes of his former self. He made Steph Curry’s life as hard as possible (he had a +/- of even in Friday’s game), and his 17 points came largely from an impressive 3/4 from the three point range. By no means do I expect that Hinrich has much left to offer this team, but he served up some timely scoring that could have been more beneficial had the Bulls been able to keep the game closer in the last four minutes of the game.
- Derrick Rose sat out again. Rose sprained his ankle in Monday night’s game, and after sitting out on Wednesday night in Phoenix, he opted to stay out of Friday’s game as well, in spite of the chance to play against Curry. Given Rose’s history, I see no reason for him to push himself too far. The Bulls have surprised me a bit up to this point in the young season, and though I hate to get ahead of myself, I want Rose as healthy as possible for the last stretch of the season and even into the playoffs. I don’t’ know how much of a difference that Rose would have made against Golden State, but either way, I am ultimately happy with the decision to be cautious about how many minutes he spends on the floor after something like a sprained ankle.
- I harped a bit on Nikola Mirotic’s shooting in Monday’s BULLet Points, and I would like to point out that he was 0/6 from three point range against Golden State. This makes him 20/64 on the season so far, and though he shot well from beyond the arc through the first four games of the season, that just has not been the case since then. Perhaps it’s time for him to spend less time shooting from deep. He did shoot 6/6 from the free throw line and grabbed 10 rebounds.
- Bench play. Our bench players did not contribute at all like they needed to in a game like this one. The four players who came off the bench combined for just 15 points (by comparison, Golden State’s bench added 32 to their total), and this is with nine from E’Twuan Moore.
- Joakim Noah on offense has gone from laughable to worrisome to problematic. He added no points off of the bench on Friday, making it the fifth time that’s happened this season. He often looks lost on offense and as if he does not know where he should be.
- Jimmy Butler was unbelievable, pouring in 28 points, nine boards and seven assists. He was the best player on the floor for most of the night, often guarding the much bigger Draymond Green.
- The Warriors are just seriously good. We didn’t see Stephen Curry’s best work on Friday night, but he still managed 27 points, four assists, four steals, and five rebounds. Hinrich held him to 3/11 from distance. The Warriors are now 14-0, and may well pose a real threat to the 72 wins of the 1995-96 Bulls.
- In all, though the final score does not really reflect this, the game was much, much closer than a glance at the box score might indicate. I was genuinely impressed with the way that the Bulls kept this game very close and were not really out of this game until being outscored 29-21 in the 4th quarter. And even then, it was not until the last three or four minutes that Golden State really started to pull away and widen their lead behind the vaunted small lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. This game was within Chicago’s grasp until that group, +74 in 54 minutes this year, slammed the door.
- Coming up: the Bulls continue their November “circus trip” and look to improve to 9-4 in Portland on Tuesday night.