Shorthanded Bulls host streaking Warriors
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CHICAGO -- The Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls are two teams clearly operating on very different verticals.
The Warriors, who have won three of the past four NBA championships, have won four straight games and six of their first seven. The Bulls, meanwhile, have been hit hard by injuries -- including a pair that has stripped Chicago of starters Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis for 4-6 weeks while fellow starter Lauri Markkanen remains out until mid-November and reserve Denzel Valentine remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
That sets up Monday's meeting between the two teams at the United Center, where Golden State hopes to keep rolling while the Bulls are looking to simply stay afloat while being held down by the adversity that has beset Fred Hoiberg's team early on.
The Warriors withstood a late surge by the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in a 120-114 victory paced by 35 points from Stephen Curry to go along with 34 from Kevin Durant. Golden State outscored Brooklyn by 10 points in the fourth quarter to extend its winning streak.
Even with Golden State coming off another title, Warriors coach Steve Kerr acknowledged there is a freshness to his team this season in the midst of its quick start out of the gate.
"We should have a lot of joy," Kerr told reporters after Sunday's victory. "We have a lot of things going for us. Our players are definitely in a good place. I think we're playing pretty well -- we can play better. I like the direction we're heading. I feel like we're getting better as we go."
Kerr's players can sense the momentum building as well as they head to Chicago to attempt to keep things moving. But the Warriors can't get too far ahead of themselves.
"We kind of set mini-goals to start off the season better," Curry told reporters Sunday. "Obviously, you're not going to blow people out every night. It's going to be tough. It's the NBA. There's talent everywhere."
For all of its early-season struggles, Chicago is coming off a 97-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Already severely short-handed, the Bulls -- who have won two of their past three games -- got a huge effort from Zach LaVine, who scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Jabari Parker contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and went 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Ryan Arcidiacono and Wendell Carter, Jr., each tallied career-high scoring efforts to bolster the Bulls.
The victory was a big boost in the arm for the Bulls (2-4), who were coming off a 29-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and who needed something positive before welcoming the Warriors to town on Monday.
The well-balanced effort is exactly what the Bulls needed.
"They didn't like how (Friday's loss) went," Hoiberg told reporters on Saturday. "They watched the film session. They were embarrassed and I could see it in their eyes that they were going to come out with a good effort (against the Hawks). When the ball was not going in the hoop, we stuck around and stayed with it. It's been a problem for us the first five games; it affected our defense."
Now, with an ugly win behind them, the Bulls will look to build off of Saturday's win although they know the Warriors will provide a major challenge. But finding a way to right the ship -- at least for now -- will help.
"(We were) upset with the effort we gave (against Charlotte)," LaVine told reporters. "It felt good to bounce back and get a win."
Updated October 29, 2018