CHICAGO – Steve Kerr wanted to know how the Warriors would respond to Thursday night’s bludgeoning at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was a response worthy of a championship team.
The Warriors rolled into the United Center on Friday without Klay Thompson (rest), Draymond Green (calf) and Gary Payton II (back) and put it on the Chicago Bulls, using a second-quarter blitzkrieg to eviscerate the Eastern Conference’s top team 138-96.
Friday night’s performance was everything Thursday night’s humiliation wasn’t.
Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole jump-started the offense early, and the Warriors’ defense, which was shredded by the Bucks 24 hours before, was active and connected, making life hard on the Bulls. The Warriors forced 14 turnovers and turned those into 21 points.
Here’s what we learned from the Warriors’ impressive bounce-back win over the Bulls.
Aggressive Wiggs and starter JP return
On Thursday, the Warriors’ cold shooting got them in an early hole they couldn’t dig out of. Wiggins and Poole made sure that wasn’t the case Friday.
Poole, back in the starting lineup with Thompson resting, scored eight quick points in the first quarter, steadying a Warriors offense that hadn’t been seeing the ball go through the hoop lately.
Wiggins took over from there, hitting several tough 2-pointers and going 3-for-4 from the 3-point line to the tune of 20 first half points.
Poole and Wiggins combined to score 35 of the Warriors’ 78 first-half points, helping Golden State grab a 31-point halftime lead. Those 78 points were the most by the Warriors in any half this season.
Poole finished with 22 points, while Wiggins chipped in 21.
Do it all, JK
With Thompson, Green and Payton out, Jonathan Kuminga got some early run for the Warriors, and he did not disappoint.
Kuminga opened the second quarter with back-to-back buckets, including this runway dunk on the inverted pick-and-roll with Curry.
Later, Kuminga showcased impressive court vision by finding Curry in the corner on the break for a 3-pointer the two-time NBA MVP splashed.
The No. 7 overall draft pick finished off his sterling second quarter by picking off a Lonzo Ball pass and taking it coast-to-coast for a transition dunk.
The rookie showed off all his tools during his second-quarter stint. He splashed a triple, attacked the rim, and played solid defense on DeMar DeRozan. The Warriors were plus-18 in Kuminga’s 10 first-half minutes.
Kuminga finished the game with 25 points on 10-for-12 from the field.
Steph starting to thaw
Coming into the game, it looked like the Warriors might need a gargantuan game from Curry to knock off the Bulls without Thompson, Green and Payton.
Curry has been mired in a mini slump, but the Warriors star showed signs of breaking out of it during Friday’s demolition in Chicago.
After scoring just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in the first quarter, Curry started to get it going in the second. He hit a 12-foot jumper early in the frame and followed than up by splashing a corner 3-pointer, his first of the night, to swell the Warriors’ lead to 15.
Then, late in the second with the Bulls gasping for air, Otto Porter Jr. stole the ball from Nikola Vucevic in the backcourt and found Curry near the top of the arc for another triple, this one giving the Warriors the 31-point lead they would carry into halftime.
The shots Curry made in the second quarter were the exact ones he has been missing over the last handful of games.
Getting those shots to fall in the second quarter lifted the lid of the basket for Curry.
He opened the third quarter with a long 3-pointer and would add another before Kerr ended the star’s night early with the game well in hand.
Curry finished the night with 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field and 4-for-10 from the 3-point line.
It was by no means a vintage Curry game, but it’s a sign that the cold spell in the Bay Area might be a thing of the past.