Bulls

Bulls streak continues with improbable win over Warriors

Bulls streak continues with improbable win over Warriors

The hair-pulling, hair-raising and asylum-inducing attributes of the Chicago Bulls were on full display and because it was a Thursday night home game, victory was all but assured.

It doesn't matter if it's the Golden State Warriors, as the best two shooters in the NBA are no match for a comical and foolish streak that seemed destined to end.

The bounces went the Bulls' way as the Warriors couldn't hit much of anything for most of the night, particularly late in the 94-87 Bulls' decision at the United Center.

The Thursday night home streak extends to 18 games and in more practical matters, the Bulls pull back to a game over .500 while the Warriors stumbled to their 11th loss of the season — their first two-game losing streak since the 2014-15 season.

And it was to these rag-tag Chicago Bulls, who did without the heroics of Jimmy Butler, although he scored 22 with six assists and five rebounds in a solid but understated performance.

Bobby Portis took his time in the spotlight with his most impactful game as a pro, scoring 17 with 13 rebounds, going head-up with Draymond Green (12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) and helping the Bulls control the glass where there were plenty of misses to be had as neither team shot 44 percent from the field.

"I thought Bobby was awesome," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was really in a great rhythm, fighting their guys on the glass, fighting our guys on the glass, he was just trying to make a big impact on the game."

Portis scored 14 of his points in the first half while Butler worked himself into the game as it wore on and seemed generally unfazed. He hit two triples and even though he took a couple shots out of aggression, being in the right position defensively more than made up for small mistakes that could be erased through experience.

"That's what Bobby Portis is," Hoiberg said. "He's out there playing winning basketball and it's great to see."

Dwyane Wade's fadeaway followed by Paul Zipser's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Bulls a six-point lead with under two minutes left — a lead that usually evaporates against this explosive team but proved to be too mountainous for the Warriors to overcome.

Scoring just 15 in the fourth would've spelled disaster but their closing lineup did just enough to carve out a win as the Bulls are tied for sixth place in the East. Wade scored 12 and Robin Lopez scored 10 as the Bulls' lowest-scoring output since Feb. 12 resulted in an improbable win.

Zipser has proven to be a dependable cog for Hoiberg despite missing time with an ankle injury. His defensive versatility along with his shot-making, as he went four for five, made him an easy option to be in the closing lineup for his first game in nearly a month.

"He really solidified himself as our sixth man and the guy who was closing games for us," Hoiberg said. "We missed him, there's no doubt about that. He's got size, he's got length, he can put it on the floor and he can really defend."

And stumbled mightily the Warriors did, as Stephen Curry went 10 of 27 and backcourt mate Klay Thompson went five of 22. Combined from three, they shot three of 22 — and the Bulls weren't much better overall, going five of 19.

Yes, the Warriors were without Kevin Durant and looked like a team battling malaise and general boredom, with Curry and Thompson having the worst luck on the most open jumpers.

Even though no Bull was in the same zip code, shots often went in and out and kept the Bulls in the game. All in all, the Warriors shot six for 30, continuing their shooting slump since starting their eastern swing.

"Our defense hasn't been as good of late," Wade said. "I thought today our attention to detail was phenomenal. They missed some shots. Some of them open, but that's part of the game."

But the Bulls will make no apologies for the Warrior woes, as the third quarter was one of the best in recent memory considering the competition, as the Bulls moved the ball around in a dizzying, Warriors-like manner, scoring 32 points.

Rajon Rondo again pushed the pace for stretches, helping put Curry in foul trouble and giving the Bulls a six-point lead in the third quarter with more aggressive play.

It helped negate an early showing where the Bulls could barely hold onto the ball with seven first-quarter turnovers — and it looked like it was only a matter of time before the Warriors found themselves and sent the Bulls on their merry way.

But it didn't happen, as the Bulls proved yet again that they are a Thursday night outfit not to be trifled with.

Now, to those other six days of the week…

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.