Back when the Warriors were running roughshod all over the league, the question was always, who is better, that team or the Bulls dynasty?
But when the Bulls and Warriors matched up Wednesday night, the question everyone was asking was, who’s worse?
Turns out that, despite having the better record, it’s the Bulls.
Golden State (4-15) finally gave their home crowd something to cheer about again with a 104-90 win over Chicago (6-13).
After their meltdown in the closing minutes Monday against the Thunder, the Warriors were eager to not make the same mistakes.
Unfortunately, having the desire and having the ability are two different things.
The urgency was there, but as soon as the Bulls turned up their defense, much the same way the Thunder did, the results were the same. Once the Chicago defense started denying first options, passing lanes dried up and things became clogged.
But there was one big difference Monday: Draymond Green was in uniform.
Instead of a 0-13 run to close the game, the Warriors ended Wednesday with a 18-6 run of their own to push the game out of reach, capped with a Green 3 from the corner.
Steve Kerr said it was the teams entire focus the last few days at practice:
“The last couple of days that’s basically what we worked on in practice, how to close a game out and what that means. And they went out and did it… Really a great response to what was a tough night the other night.”
While it was Green with the finishing touch, it was Eric Paschall who led them throughout the game. The rookie led the team in scoring with 25 and currently is the second highest scoring rookie in the league, just behind Ja Morant.
Paschall stuff the scoring column, but Green returned from his three-game absence and filled the entire stat sheet in his 23 minutes. He finished with seven points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals, but what helped the team the most didn’t show up in the box score.
His veteran presence was the thing this team was sorely missing and it was especially evident during that Thunder game.
Green sprinted around the floor, directed everyone where to go on both ends of the court, and just generally took charge, which is the very thing that was obviously absent the last few contests.
When the Bulls made their run, the team wasn’t looking for someone, anyone to step up, because Green was already doing it. And that let the rest of the team relax and feed off his energy.
Omari Spellman erupted for his first double-double in a Warriors uniform with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in just 24 minutes and his energy grew when he was on the court with Green.
He threw down a couple massive dunks, one on a putback, but it was actually his defense that was the most impressive, continually changing shots in the key and frustrating everyone on Chicago not named Zach LaVine.
Spellman said this is the best he’s felt physically and mentally since college and the coaching staff has been a big part of that:
“Sometimes I have a problem with being confident. He doesn’t always outright say it, but he instills that confidence in me, day in and day out. Telling me to shoot it, telling me to be aggressive… and just hearing those words over and over again, I think allowed me to play aggressively the way I did tonight.”
And his big man partner Marquese Chriss was equally impressive in his minutes with 11 points, four steals and two blocks of his own.
They’ve even started sharing the court together for stretches, and that lineup has proven more than capable.
Kerr said the reason the two bigs started playing together was a necessity, but now it’s become a strength for the team:
“Omari and Marquese have really become kind of a nice tandem together. It came about because of the lack of depth in our lineup. We knew we had to play them together some… and now playing those two guys together, they compliment one another really well.”
But it wasn’t just the bigs that Green helped out, Alec Burks rebounded from his awful performance Monday with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
No longer tasked with being the primary initiator, Burks was free to attack closeouts and move around, which is where he’s at his most dangerous.
It’s really crazy how much one player can make in whole team’s fortunes, although it did help that they also played what may be the most dysfunctional team in the NBA.
But whatever the case, Chase Center finally got to see another win.
While many regular people are hitting the road for the holidays, the Warriors are doing the same. A five-game road trip awaits Golden State, and it starts with a cross-country flight to Miami for a date with the Heat Friday.
The injured Splash Brothers are keeping busy, as Klay Thompson spent the second quarter as the team’s sideline reporter and on the road trip, Stephen Curry is slated to appear on the team’s pre and post game shows.