Bulls

Bulls cruise to blowout win over Warriors

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Bulls cruise to blowout win over Warriors

Forget their recent history of struggling at home or their difficulties maintaining early leads, from the start to finish Friday night, the Bulls (26-16) played with a purpose.

Multiple players, including the point-guard tandem of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson and the big-man duo of Carlos Boozer and recently named first-time All-Star Joakim Noah, as well as fill-in starter Jimmy Butler, all contributed to a 103-87 shellacking of Golden State (26-16) at the United Center.

The hosts jumped out to a quick start, scoring the games first eight points, buoyed by the play of Boozer (15 points, 13 rebounds), who was perceived as a slight All-Star snub Thursday evening and armed with some motivation, logged a first-half double-double.

Propelled by point guard Stephen Curry (21 points), viewed as the consensus biggest omission from the All-Star roster, the visitors fought back to make a double-digit deficit more manageable for the time being.

Aside from Boozers solid play on offense and on the glass, as well as the energetic play of both Butler (16 points, 12 rebounds) starting in Luol Dengs place for the fourth consecutive game with the All-Star sidelined due to a strained right hamstring and Noah (14 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots), the Bulls also got a lift from floor general Hinrich (25 points on 8-for-11 shooting, five assists, 6-for-7 three-point shooting), who knocked down his first three shots from the field and two first-quarter triples to give the home team a formidable early lead.

With veteran Rip Hamiltons playmaking also influencing matters and the hosts defense and rebounding dominating their guests besides a 21-7 edge on the glass, Golden State was held to 22.7 percent shooting from the floor, with Curry and All-Star power forward David Lee (23 points) combining for 3-for-13 shooting the Bulls had a 31-13 advantage through the opening period.

Backup point guard Robinson (22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, four assists), who played for the Warriors last season, was the Bulls catalyst at the outset of the second quarter, as his instant-offense ability the diminutive scorer notched double figures in the period tormented his former teammates.

The hosts were efficient offensively and stifling on the defensive end, all the while owning the backboards, en route to securing a comfortably wide winning margin of over 20 points and at times, doubling up their guests.

While a determined Curry eventually got some shots to fall, Lee was able to get to the free-throw line and sleeper early-season Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jarrett Jack came off the bench to provide some scoring and playmaking, Golden State struggled mightily to stay in the contest, as the Bulls, a team thats had its issues at home all season, evidenced by their 13-11 mark at the United Center, threatened to run the visitors out of the building in the first half.

However, the Bulls are also a squad thats experienced problems maintaining big leads and despite Hinrichs continued hot hand the veteran scored 19 first-half points to lead the way the Warriors gradually chipped into the deficit and by virtue of a 37-point quarter, at the intermission, the hosts led by the more reasonable margin, at least for the visitors, of 63-50.

After the break, Golden States momentum carried over, as the visitors cut it to a 10-point deficit, behind the play of Lee and Curry, as well as second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson, though they were helped by the Bulls inefficiency.

But the hosts got out of their malaise, led by the athletic Butlers all-around play, rebounding and finishing at the rim, not to mention Noah, who joined Boozer as having a double-double, but added his uncanny playmaking to the equation.

Butler eventually notched the same accomplishment, helping the Bulls lead balloon and resuming their early-game dominance of the contest against a Golden State team that looked spent from the effort to get back into the game.

Heading into the final stanza, the Bulls had an 84-66 edge, capped by Robinsons dribbling display and deep jumper late in the third quarter.

Robinsons effectiveness as an off-the-dribble scorer came to the forefront at the beginning of the fourth period Hinrich played point guard, allowing Robinson, more of a natural scorer than a playmaker, to be off the ball as the Bulls again flirted with a 20-point lead.

The Warriors looked disjointed on both ends of the floor and the end of the contest evolved into extended garbage time, as well as Robinsons personal showcase.

As time wound down, Golden States deep reserves saw action, while the only drama in the arena was when, not if, the Bulls would reach triple digits, which they did on a Hinrich shot from long distance with 3:17 left, giving him a season-high point total.

Eventually, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau realized the contest was in the bag and inserted the likes of seldom-used veteran forward Vladimir Radmanovic, rookie point guard Marquis Teague, backup center Nazr Mohammed and the teams newest acquisition, sharpshooter Daequan Cook, who knocked down a late three, the home teams final basket of the blowout victory.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.  

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

There's not often hype surrounding a game between two of the NBA's worst teams, but Tuesday's Bulls-Lakers matchup was intriguing to many because it offered a chance to see a pair of top rookies compete. 

Oh, but you didn't think we meant Lonzo Ball and Lauri Markkanen, did you?

Nah, it was two different, less-touted first-year players that ended up stealing the spotlight at the Staples Center. 

Kyle Kuzma and Antonio Blakeney may not be household names, but they sure played like they were in the Bulls' 103-94 loss. 

Kuzma, the Lakers rook drafted 27th overall, has been a spark for Luke Walton's squad all season long. Boasting a terrific scoring arsenal, the Utah product carried the load for the Lakers' offense in the first half, dropping 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He finished the game as L.A.'s leading scorer with 22 in 40 minutes. But if you still need a more in-depth scouting report on Kuzma, just let Lonzo break it down:  

More importantly for Bulls fans, though, was the play of their undrafted guard who's signed to a two-way deal. 

Blakeney, the unofficial Summer League MVP, came off the bench on Tuesday and immediately left his mark on the game. The 21-year-old out of LSU posted 15 in the first half, finishing through contact as well as connecting on outside jumpers. 

Blakeney's shooting isn't reliable quite yet, but his energy has clearly influenced Hoiberg's rotation. The guard went from playing one NBA minute in the Bulls' first 11 games to playing 75 in the last four. Given that his two-way deal allows him to only spend 45 days with the team, it'll be fascinating to see how creative Gar Forman and John Paxson will get with his contract if this type of production continues. 

In a season that's obviously going to have its share of rough moments, an offseason flyer hitting is a huge plus for the rebuild. 

As for the recognized rookies, Lonzo's shooting woes persisted and Markkanen had maybe his worst offensive performance of his young Bulls career. Combined, they finished 7-for-30 with 21 points. Not ideal.