SAN FRANCISCO – This year’s trip to the Bay Area had a much different look than it has in the past, and not just because the Bulls were going to a different city to face the Bay Area’s NBA team.
The Warriors are in their first season playing in the new Chase Center, moving from Oracle Arena in Oakland to downtown San Francisco. While that is a change, the biggest was the team they were facing on the court.
Steve Kerr’s Golden State team, which lost Kevin Durant in the offseason and wouldn’t have had him anyway due to an Achilles injury, is reeling without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in the lineup. They were facing the Bulls on Wednesday with a 3-15 record, sitting last in a Western Conference in which they’ve been first a majority of this decade.
For an erratic team, this looked like the chance to get a rare win against the Warriors and a good start to a three-game Western Conference trip around the holiday weekend. But for those fans who’ve watched the group the last year, a similar story of disappointment played out.
Despite a strong offensive effort from Zach LaVine, the Bulls had nothing for the finish against the depleted Warriors’ team who had just Draymond Green on the floor as a regular contributor to their dynasty era.
Using an effort led by Eric Paschall (25 points) and Alec Burks (23 points), the Warriors turned what was a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter into a decisive victory. They outscored the Bulls 18-7 in the final 5:44 to pick up a 104-90 victory, just their fourth of the entire season.
Meanwhile, Jim Boylen’s team drops to 6-13 on the season in what could be regarded as one of the more disappointed and frustrating losses of the season considering that it was a game the Bulls had a real shot to win. Through 19 contests this season, but Bulls are just one game better than they were a season ago (5-14), and it was about this time they made the decision to fire then head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Yet again, the formula was familiar.
The Bulls rode the hot shooting of Zach LaVine over the course of 48 minutes as the guard enjoyed one of his better offensive games of the season. His 36 points were the third-highest output of the season as he shot 13-of-24 from the field with four-three pointers on nine attempts. It was his bucket with 7:31 to go that got the Bulls within three points and he got them there again with a free throw with 5:44 to go.
After that, as has happened so many times, the Bulls began to struggle in the final minutes. Golden State blew the game open with a 16-2 run as the Bulls’ had a collection of bad possessions and a poor defense that took out any shot of a victory.
It was an unfamiliar place for the Bulls to be literally on Wednesday night, but figuratively it’s a script that continues to play out more often than not in 2019-2020.