OAKLAND—After the Bulls jumped out to a 29-16 first-quarter lead against the Warriors, it looked like smooth sailing.
Then, Stephen Curry took over. The All-Star point guard had 16 second-quarter points, changing the complexion of the contest with his prolific outside shooting.
Golden State took control of the game, using a 20-6 extended run to take a halftime lead and never looked back. Curry finished with 34 points and nine assists on the evening.
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“A guy like that, you can’t guard individually. You’ve got to guard him with your team and what you try to do is make him work for his points, and he has the ability to make a tough shot when he’s guarded well. It’s not just him. When you put an Iguodala out there handling the ball and you put Harrison Barnes out there, and Klay Thompson, you’re spread out pretty good and I thought O’Neal gave them good minutes in the middle, just with his size. I thought they played real hard, too. They played well,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought the start of the game was good. Then, they were real small and there were a lot of scramble plays that we couldn’t come up with the loose ball. The initial part was good and the scramble three, I thought, really hurt us. They probably had five or six of those and when you’re small like that, and they’re shooting the long threes, you’ve got to get to those and then, if they do come up with them, you’ve got to scramble back to men. You can’t just stay in the paint and I thought that three was the one that got us.”
His players, members of one of the NBA’s upper-echelon defensive units, concurred.
“It’s tough because a lot of the looks he got were contested. I looked at Thibs; couple of times, he shot it on me. I was right in his face,” Taj Gibson said. “It was one of the times in the NBA, when you contest a shot like that, especially a good shooter, you live with it. You contest it, you give it your all and he was just knocking down tough shots, and a guy like that, when he gets hot, it’s so hard to slow him down, as you can tell.”
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All-Star center Joakim Noah chimed in: “He’s a hell of a player. I think we could have done a better job of trying to blitz his picks and put two on the ball, but I think they played very well offensively. Barnes was huge, gave them great energy. Green, as well; Jermaine O’Neal, as well. Got to give credit where credit is due. There’s things we could have done better. Just a tough loss.”