The Warriors are BY FAR the best third-quarter team in the NBA. They entered the night a plus-218 in the third quarter this season, 70 points better than the next best team. Golden State’s third-quarter dominance was on display at the United Center on Wednesday night, and it propelled the defending champs to a 119-112 victory and a 14th straight road win, tying a franchise record.
The Bulls actually led 66-63 at halftime after a well-balanced first-half effort. After falling behind by 12 points early thanks to a whole lot of Stephen Curry, the Bulls stormed back behind spirited play from Nikola Mirotic and the bench. That 12-point deficit turned into a two-point lead and a 40-point first quarter. The Bulls even opened up an 11-point lead in the second quarter.
The Warriors reeled the Bulls in by the end of the half, though, and the third quarter was a bloodbath. As the Bulls’ offense floundered, Curry and Klay Thompson caught fire. The Splash Brothers scored 22 of the Warriors’ first 28 points of the frame as they ran out to a 19-point advantage. They wound up winning the quarter 32-12 and took a 17-point lead into the final frame.
The game felt over at that point, but Mirotic again led a comeback. He had eight points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Bulls trimmed the deficit down to five points on a Kris Dunn dunk with just under three minutes to play that actually knocked him out of the game because he face-planted:
Brutal scene in Chicago. It looks like Kris Dunn broke a bunch of teeth falling face first to the floor pic.twitter.com/1IgeEdBH2B— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) January 18, 2018
Thompson and Kevin Durant scored big buckets after that to seemingly salt the game away, but the Bulls had one final opening when David Nwaba forced a Curry turnover and Lauri Markkanen launched a 3-pointer that could’ve brought the Bulls’ deficit to just two points with around 20 seconds left. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Markkanen’s night (11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, minus-33) and the Bulls took the loss.
Mirotic had a huge game to help keep the Bulls competitive. He finished with 24 points on 9 of 13 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3-point range. He also had six rebounds, three assists, three steals and was a team-best plus-25 in 27 minutes of action. Nwaba (8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, stellar defense on Steph later in the game), Bobby Portis (12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Denzel Valentine (10 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds) all provided major contributions off the bench as the starters mostly had an off game.
Dunn had 16/5/4/3, but he struggled with his shot until making three of his final four attempts prior to his fall. Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday both shot 2 of 12 from the field and combined to go 2 of 13 from long range as they cooled off from their recent hot games. Robin Lopez had 16 points on 8 of 11 from the field, but the Bulls got smoked with him on the floor.
Dunn was evaluated for a concussion after the game, and we’ll likely hear more about his status tomorrow. Dr. LaVine seems to think he’s fine:
Zach LaVine says Kris Dunn is "all good." LaVine checked on him postgame.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) January 18, 2018
Thompson (38 points) and Curry (30 points) led the way for the Warriors, who lost Jordan Bell in the first minute to an ankle injury and didn’t have Draymond Green (Bell started for him) or Andre Iguodala available. This was actually a rare big performance for Curry at the United Center. He has historically struggled playing in Chicago, but he was instrumental in building the Warriors’ big lead. It’s worth noting, though, that Curry didn’t score after his 3-pointer with 5:18 left in the third quarter. Nwaba deserves a lot of credit for his defense against the two-time MVP.
The Bulls now have two days off before traveling to Atlanta for a date with the cellar-dweller Hawks on Saturday night.