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Curry, Warriors embarrass Bulls in measuring stick game

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Curry, Warriors embarrass Bulls in measuring stick game

Stephen Curry had the ball on a string and thought Derrick Rose was right with it, but when Rose didn’t allow himself to be shook, the United Center stood and applauded the defensive effort.

Then Curry found a curling Klay Thompson escaping Jimmy Butler a few inches away, and seconds later that effort went unrewarded as the best shooter in basketball fed the second-best shooter in basketball.

Triple, swish, timeout.

It was that kind of night for the Bulls against the NBA champs, who openly said this game was a measuring stick to their progress to date.

And a 125-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors sent a resounding message that though the Bulls have a reputation for getting up for the big games, their elevator doesn’t reach that high.

“They play the right way,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “All their guys move, they cut and every guy on the floor can make a play.”

[MORE BULLS: In house that Jordan built, Warriors look capable of hitting Bulls' 72-win mark]

Coming in knowing full well the Warriors can embarrass you if you’re not adhering to the gameplan or if the gameplan doesn’t cover everything, the Bulls still succumbed and the submission seemed to happen early.

Again, communication was a problem.

“It was embarrassing, we stopped communicating when while we were out there,” Rose said. “You could easily tell there was no communication on both sides of the ball.”

The Bulls shot 37 percent in the first half and trailed by 19 when the game was barely 15 minutes old. The Warriors shot 52 percent and toyed with the opponent as if it was a varsity-JV matchup.

Curry and Thompson didn’t have explosive nights, but they surely weren’t silent, as Curry had some dazzling moves and Thompson filled in the blanks where necessary. Curry could’ve tallied a triple double but in 34 minutes scored 25 points with 11 assists and seven rebounds.

Thompson scored an easy 20 in 32 minutes, hitting three triples as the Warriors shot 38 percent and made 12 long balls.

“They’re tough, they have a lot of guys who can score, a lot of guys who can guard, yeah. But when you don’t play good basketball, any matchup is difficult in this league,” Butler said.

[MORE BULLS: Derrick Rose: 'I love the way I'm playing right now']

The Warriors didn’t put an all-out assault like they did on the Cleveland Cavaliers when they went up 43 points in a laugher. They just did all the great things championship teams do on a given night: never got lost on screens, shared the ball endlessly and ignored the noise.

“Guard, for one," Butler said. “We’re too worried about offense too much at times. We don’t play defense, we don’t rebound, we don’t get back. It’s not the bigs, it’s on everybody. When we’re not guarding, we’re not a very good team.”

Rose provided most of the noise early for the Bulls as they jumped out to a quick lead that wouldn’t hold. He finished with 29 points, including 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first quarter.

Rose burned so much energy early attacking the basket and challenging Curry, he asked out six minutes into the game due to fatigue. The Bulls were down 13-12, but the Warriors went on a 21-6 run to finish the quarter, effectively ending it before it began.

Without Butler being his usual self, the Bulls were no match. He didn’t get involved until the third quarter, and by then the Warriors had a 20-point head start.

He finished with 23 points and five rebounds but only had four at halftime, when the Warriors achieved a 21-point lead.

“It just shows how bad we can be if we don’t guard,” Butler said.

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Harrison Barnes scored 19 with three triples, while Andre Iguodala came off the bench to score 10 and disrupt the Bulls offense, one that made just one of 20 triples and shot 37 percent from the field.

“We came out like that in the second half and had a chance to cut it to single digits,” said Hoiberg, referring to the Bulls grabbing a little momentum to cut the lead to 67-56 midway through the third.

But the offense folded, and the lead was quickly pressed back to 16 and then to 24 at quarter’s end.

“We missed some easy shots, we let it affect us on the other end and they got some easy baskets. They kept attacking all the way to the finish line.”

Pau Gasol was 30 points short of his effort in Detroit, going 0-for-8 with only a free throw in 23 minutes.

Nikola Mirotic was also on a milk carton, going 0-for-5 along with Tony Snell only making a field goal in the last six minutes, when the game was well out of reach.

Everything the Bulls did wrong, the Warriors pounced on.

They stripped weak drives, caught the Bulls napping way too much on defense for multiple backdoor layups and open shots, laughing all the way home.

When the Bulls got close, the Warriors would hit a couple of triples in succession to hush the impending roar of the United Center. Then it became showtime, with alley-oops, long triples and the general joy that comes with being a member of a Warriors team challenging the 1996 Bulls' record of 72 wins.

For the Bulls, there was misery for the better part of 40 minutes and the knowledge of knowing they’ll have a long, long way to go before reaching elite status.

2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

Luol Deng experienced plenty of highs and lows throughout his nine-plus seasons with the Bulls.

But his love for the organization that acquired him in a 2004 draft-day trade never wavered, even after it traded him to the Cavaliers in January 2014 in a move to exit the luxury tax.

That’s why Deng signed a ceremonial, one-day contract Thursday so that he could retire as a Bull.

“From the moment we made Luol Deng the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls became a better team,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “Luol carried himself with first-class professionalism and leadership, helping lead his Bulls team to eight playoff appearances during his time in Chicago. We’ll always remember his All-Star career and the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night.”

“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Luol has chosen to retire as a Chicago Bull,” Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said. “He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win. I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts.”

Deng, a two-time All-Star, is all over the franchise leaderboard. He’s tied for fourth by playing in parts of 10 seasons with the Bulls. He’s sixth in games played, fifth in minutes, fourth in points, fifth in field goals, ninth in rebounds, fifth in steals, seventh in 3-pointers and eighth in free throws.

But Deng’s impact with the Bulls moved past numbers. When he arrived with Ben Gordon, one season after the Bulls drafted Kirk Hinrich, Deng helped pull the Bulls from their post-dynasty funk and transform them into a perennial playoff team. He chose to play through a torn wrist ligament so that he could represent his adopted homeland of Great Britain at the 2014 Summer Olympics.

He became a two-time All-Star as Tom Thibodeau’s indispensable, two-way forward, consistently ranking near the top of the NBA in minutes played. And his community service through his Luol Deng Foundation featured Chicago and global reach.

The day after the trade to the Cavaliers, Deng talked to this author at length while standing inside the Cavaliers practice facility.

"I had an opportunity to play for a great organization. I've been very lucky to play 10 years for the only team that I ever knew as a kid," Deng said that January 2014 day. "I only knew Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls when I was 7 years old and in Egypt. For me to be the fourth-leading scorer on that team, did I ever think a refugee kid in Egypt would even play for the Bulls? There's a lot of amazing things that have happened."

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Kris Dunn takes team-first approach to reserve role behind Tomas Satoransky

Kris Dunn takes team-first approach to reserve role behind Tomas Satoransky

Not even a reserve role can shake Kris Dunn’s resolve.

Continuing his completely different tone from the end of last season in his comments to reporters, Dunn took the news that he’ll back up Tomas Satoransky in stride Thursday in advance of the Bulls’ final preseason game versus the Hawks.

“Just being positive, cheering guys on. Just bringing my energy. I’m an energetic guy. That’s just my personality. I just bring it to the gym and allow that good energy to resonate on the floor and to the other guys,” Dunn said at the Advocate Center. “You need (depth) in the league. There are going to be games where the starters come out flat and the second unit is going to have to pick it up and allow them to come back in and finish the game. Just having depth is a good thing because injuries occur. You need backups you can trust.”

At the tail end of last season, as Dunn got publicly challenged by executive vice president John Paxson and phased out of the Bulls’ core in the team’s public comments, the guard acted sullen at times. But he reported to voluntary September workouts with a renewed energy and mental approach after a self-proclaimed offseason of reflection.

“I just appreciate Coach (Jim Boylen) talking to me and being straightforward and being truthful to me,” Dunn said. “I’m going to do my job and do what’s best for the team.”

Dunn started two of the first four preaseason games but largely played with reserves. Does he feel he got a fair shot at keeping his starting job?

“I’m not really going to speak on that. I feel I’m in a great spot. I love what the coaching staff is doing with me and the team. We have a great group of guys,” Dunn said. “We’re going to play hard every game and hopefully make that playoff push.”

And Dunn, who recorded six steals last Friday in Indiana, believes he still has an important role.

“My greatest strength right now is defense. I know that. My teammates know that. It’s no surprise to the team,” he said. “I bring it each day.”

Boylen is appreciative of Dunn’s attitude.

“Before I could even get out the words, ‘Kris, I’m going to bring you off the bench to start the season,’ he had already said, ‘Coach, I’m going to do whatever you need me to do and I’m ready for what you want me to do.’ Before I could even get it out. It was a two-minute conversation,” Boylen said. “I’ve always said he has great heart for the team. He has always been very coachable. He accepts criticism. He owns his mistakes. His response is all about the team and what we’re trying to build. It’s role definition and it’s role acceptance. His role acceptance is off the charts.”

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