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Bulls vs. Warriors final score: Nikola Vucevic ties career-high 43 points in surprising 132-118 win

it’s Chicago’s first victory over Golden State since 2017!

Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Our Chicago Bulls nabbed their first victory over the visiting Golden State Warriors since March 2nd, 2017 without their best player, DeMar DeRozan. An engaged Chicago defense and an otherworldly night on offense from Nikola Vucevic helped secure the W and inch Chicago that much closer to a .500 record at 20-24.

The Bulls had lost their last 11 straight games against the Warriors coming into the matinee matchup today.

Chicago got off to a sparkling start against the Dubs, keyed by a sharpshooting opening quarter courtesy of Vucevic, a swarming Bulls defense that led to seven Warriors turnovers, and plenty of Chicago drives to the rim off those turnovers.

Chi Slamma Jamma was well-represented tonight in the game’s first period. Derrick Jones Jr., getting extended minutes with Javonte Green and DeMar DeRozan sidelined, showed off his Slam Dunk Contest champion bona fides early:

A two-time Slam Dunk contest winner, Zach LaVine, got in on the breakaway dunking fun, as well:

Vucevic was already showing off his diverse shooting portfolio early on for Chicago, which got off to an excellent 35-20 first quarter lead heading into the second frame. The Bulls led by as many as 17 points in the period.

Golden State quickly chipped away at that Bulls advantage early in the second quarter, shrinking the lead to single digits within the game’s first 90 seconds, 37-29.

Vucevic proved to be a frequent focal point of the Chicago offense, as Golden State often employed small-ball lineups featuring 6’6” Draymond Green at center. The Bulls capitalized frequently, finding Vucevic as much as possible.

Chicago was able to keep the Warriors at bay for much of the second quarter, just barely, thanks to efficient shooting and passing, plus even more steals:

The Warriors had 11 turnovers in the first half, as the Bulls notched 7 steals to the Warriors’ 5.

A 9-0 Warriors run late in the quarter got Golden State right back into it, thanks to a flurry of triples from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry that had the UC crowd amped:

A panicked LaVine started settling for early shot-clock jumpers as the Bulls’ edge eroded, which didn’t exactly help Chicago get out of its funk as time ran down in the first half. Draymond Green drew a tech that sent him to the Warriors bench with 2:14 remaining, after he shoved Alex Caruso into Stephen Curry as the Bulls guard tried to block the Golden State All-Star.

Golden State scored 41 points in the frame (Klay Thompson chipped in with five triples of his own during the quarter). Vucevic led the Bulls with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting and six rebounds in the first half, but his hot shooting run cooled off considerably in the second quarter. LaVine was Chicago’s only other scorer in double digits, with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field (0-of-4 from deep). Thompson (15 points), Curry (12 points) and Anthony Lamb (14) paced the Warriors in the first half.

The Warriors snuck into the halftime break leading by a possession, 62-59. Golden State’s three-point shooting through the first half was already looking intimidating, as the Warriors shot 12-of-28 (42.9%) from long range at the break, far ahead of the Bulls’ 7-of-19 (36.8%) shooting.

Golden State kicked off the third quarter with a flurry of buckets, before Chicago clawed its way back into the action and the two clubs started trading shots.

LaVine took over on offense for Chicago in the third quarter, while the rest of the club helped the Bulls with some gang defense. The All-Star(ish) shooting guard scored nine points in the frame.

Luckily for the Bulls, the Warriors went into a miserable scoring drought for four and a half minutes midway through the third period.

Chicago led 92-86 heading into the final period of regulation, thanks to a late 18-foot Vucevic jumper.

Zach found himself near triple-double territory by the end of the third quarter, with nine rebounds and six assists to his credit alongside the 21 points. Vucevic had 27 points, nine rebounds and four steals heading into the fourth.

The Bulls started off strong in the fourth quarter. Vucevic hit the 30-point mark for the first time this season early in the frame, and just kept shooting well after that:

Bulls super-sub guard Coby White had a big night for Chicago, scoring a lot off athletic drives inside the lane, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor. Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu each hit a huge triple down the stretch for Chicago. Two straight late buckets from a red-hot Vucevic put the Bulls up 124-109 with 1:57 remaining. By that point, Steve Kerr had seen enough, and he yanked his veteran starters. Billy Donovan kept Vucevic and some of his other starters in just long enough to allow Vucevic to tie his all-time scoring high of 43 points. The final margin: 132-118 Bulls.

The big man shot 18-of-31 from the floor (5-of-10 from deep!) and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe, grabbed 13 boards (his ninth straight triple-double, the third-best such streak in the league rigt now), dished out four dimes, and notched four steals for good measure.

LaVine finished with 27 of his own, and though he had a lackluster shooting night (7-of-18 from the floor, 1-of-8 from deep), he looked absolutely ferocious driving inside, which helped get him to the line at a positively DeMar-esque clip. He went 12-of-14 on free throws.

Beyond Vucevic, the other big story of the night was Chicago’s pressure defense, which sparked a whopping 23 Warriors turnovers and 31 subsequent points off those turnovers for Chicago. The Bulls also bested the Warriors in points in the paint by a massive margin, 56-34.

The team now gets some extended rest ahead of its Parisian bout with the Detroit Pistons next Thursday.