ORACLE ARENA — After lifeless outings against Charlotte and Washington, twitchy Warriors fans were fearing the worst.
But after a dismal first quarter, Golden State transformed into a powerhouse, taking down the Bulls 102-87 Thursday night.
It wasn’t just the Splash Brothers knocking down shots and the Warriors clamping down on defense — though there was plenty of that.
Jermaine O’Neal diving for loose balls, Draymond Green saving the rock from going out of bounds, Jordan Crawford creating space, ball movement and all-around effort were finally on display at Oracle.
Another shabby start could easily have been blamed on missing bigs Andrew Bogut and David Lee. But the Warriors have been playing terribly — even with the beloved #Fullsquad — for weeks.
Booed by the sellout crowd early on and trailing by as many as 16, the Warriors were playing just as feared.
But instead of crumbling, they went at the Bulls with everything they had.
Head coach Mark Jackson continued to stress his trust in “the process,” telling SFBay that — contrary to what people think — his team is on the right track:
“We’ve come a long way. We won 23 games three years ago. I mean, you’ve got to sit back sometimes and say wow, look at where we are. We’re on national TV. It’s a beautiful thing.”
A 10-2 run midway through the second quarter ignited the Warriors to outscore the Bulls 34-17 with Stephen Curry scoring 16 of his game-high 34 points in the second quarter alone.
Finally, with a 50-46 lead and some confidence, Golden State opened the second half with a strength that hasn’t been seen since their 6-1 road trip.
Curry said the team wanted to avoid another slow start, but after gaining the lead it felt good to control a game all the way to the final buzzer:
“We fought hard tonight and found a way to get the momentum back on our side in the second quarter and didn’t really look back.”
Taj Gibson finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and posed the largest threat to the Warriors, but was kept scoreless throughout the final nine minutes of play by stifling defense from Harrison Barnes.
Barnes, along with Thompson, and Crawford have all struggled to find their rhythm as of late, but all scored in double-figures as Jackson earned his 100th career win as a head coach of the Warriors.
Just a few days ago Jackson said he laughed at Kent Bazemore for celebrating his 100th game played, but told SFBay, now it’s not so funny:
“I was a kid sitting on the sidelines, dreaming to play, dreaming to announce and dreaming to coach. To realize the awesome blessing of being able to win 100 games and coach this group of guys, I don’t take it for granted and I’m extremely humbled.”
The Warriors, now 30-20 overall, head to Phoenix on Saturday before returning home to face the Philadelphia 76ers (15-35) Monday.
The Warriors have won 30 games through their first 50 contests for the second consecutive year. … Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 34 points to go with nine assists. Only LeBron James and Kevin Durant have more 30-point games than Curry’s 14 this season. … Draymond Green made his first start of the year (second regular-season start of his career) in place of David Lee, tallying nine points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. … Harrison Barnes hit a season-high three three-pointers, totaling 11 points off the bench. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson set a new NBA-record by each hitting a three-point shot for the 30th consecutive game.