With Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade out of uniform, the Golden State Warriors handed the depleted Chicago Bulls a methodical 123-92 beat down on Wednesday night in Oracle Arena. Birthday boy Klay Thompson led all scorers with 28 points (one point over his current age) as the Dubs never trailed in another ho-hum “we just need to be good enough to win this game” affair. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined for 41 points, helping to off-set a quiet night from reigning MVP Stephen Curry (13 points, 1-of-4 from distance).
Golden State heads out on an intriguing three-game road trip where they will face a team they have yet to beat in two tries this season (Memphis), KD’s former squad, and the burly front line of the Denver Nuggets (the current eight-seed in the playoffs).
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
1. After a forgettable performance against the Kings where he shot only 2-of-10 and looked completely out of sorts, Durant brought the force from the jump versus the Bulls. KD drove hard to the rim four times in the first half alone, scoring three baskets and garnering two fouls in the process. For the game, Durant dropped a 22-10-7-3-1 stat line and, more importantly, looked like he shook out of whatever funk was troubling him in Sacramento.
2. JaVale McGee continues to take the Warriors’ offense to new heights (metaphorically and literally). The former Shaqtin’-A-Fool All-Star has become a consistent threat to exploit seams in opponent defenses for easy dunks, and is creating lob opportunities by simply running hard baseline to baseline. McGee had 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks in only 16 minutes.
3. Of course, one reason McGee doesn’t play more is his lack of sound defensive fundamentals … for which he paid a painful price on a Robin Lopez pump fake.
4. Hey! Look at Kevon Looney. Dude is starting to resemble a real NBA player. He wasn’t great (some defensive lapses), but he wasn’t bad either (10 points, 4 boards, 5-6 shooting). And for a young guy who missed most of his rookie season, that’s good enough. And certainly better than trotting out a 34-year-old floppy center with no upside.
5. Speaking of which, let’s pour one out for never having to watch Anderson Varejao start an NBA game again.
6. Despite having a ridiculously efficient year, Durant is currently shooting 37 percent from distance, his lowest mark in five seasons. For comparison, Draymond shot nearly 39 percent on 3s last year.
7. What a crazy NBA season it’s been. Chicago’s top three veterans, the guys that were supposed to lead this new iteration of the Bulls back to the playoffs, were openly feuding with each other less than two weeks ago, yet because of the circus going on in New York, and Boogie Cousin’s homage to Rasheed Wallace’s unimpeachable 41-technical season, we’ve already moved on from that story. The Dubs get scrutinized just for having on-court arguments, imagine if they called each other out on social media like Rondo did. The internet would probably explode.
8. For Warriors fans who veer more towards unhealthy obsessive, the most exciting part of this game was absolutely the last 3:47. With Brionte Weber on the squad, Steve Kerr was finally able to play a garbage time line up that looked like a real basketball team. Gone are the days of three plodding big-men running Klay’s top-of-the-court weave, and in its place we had two guards to handle the ball (Ian Clark, Weber), a wing (Patrick McCaw), a power forward (Looney) and a center (Damian Jones). And you know what, the group was effective (plus-7) and fun!
9. Weber, as you’d expect from a guy playing his first game with the Warriors, looked like he was running on pure adrenaline in his initial minutes. But he also showed why the Dubs scooped him up. He’s a ludicrous athlete, he’s bouncy defensively, and, although it was only one play, he showed good vision when he dished the ball off a drive to Clark for an open corner three. Weber and the development of the other young guys finally gives fans a reason to stay tuned during blowouts.
1o. Steph had a quiet night on the court, but his words reverberated all day in the real world.