The Golden State Warriors went cold on Thursday in their first game after Kevin Durant’s knee injury, and they fell 94-87 to the Chicago Bulls. Stephen Curry scored 23 points but missed his last five shots, finishing the night 10-for-27 from the field. Jimmy Butler had a team-high 22 points for the Bulls, with six assists, five rebounds, four steals and a block.
Here are six takeaways:
Something had to give
Entering the game, the Bulls had won 17 games in a row at home on TNT, the league’s strangest streak. The Warriors, meanwhile, had gone 146 games without losing consecutive games, the league’s most unbelievable streak. Even with Durant out, it’s sort of hard to believe Golden State’s incredible run ended this way, but perhaps it had something to do with Chicago’s national television magic.
“Maybe we should play on TNT more often,” Butler told Kristen Ledlow in the walk off interview.
Butler, by the way, is the only player on the Bulls roster who was there for the start of the streak. Before this, the last time the Warriors lost two straight games was April 2015.
Chicago deserves credit for its disciplined defense, but most of this was on Golden State. The Warriors uncharacteristically shot 38.6 percent and went 6-for-30 (20 percent) from 3-point range, scoring fewer than 100 points for the third time this season. The Splash Brothers missed shots even when wide open and in rhythm, and this has been the trend on this road trip.
Curry went 2-for-11 from 3-point range. In his last three games, he has shot 26-for-70 and 4-for-31 from deep. Thompson was worse, going 5-for-22 and 1-for-11 from 3-point range. In his last three games, he has shot 17-for-59 and 7-for-33 from downtown. These are gross numbers, and they just don’t look right when you look at the Splash Brothers’ game logs. Obviously, Golden State needs these guys to get out of their slumps even more now that Durant is out for at least a month.
Fourth-quarter issues again
The whole game was ugly, but it was especially so in the fourth quarter, where the Bulls outscored the superteam 15-14. Apparently, the Warriors’ late-game execution issues this season might not be all about adjusting to Durant’s presence -- they missed all 11 of their 3-point attempts and 17 of their 23 shots overall in the final frame.
The weird thing: Golden State wasn’t really messing around and turning the ball over. There were some quick shots, but it wasn’t like the Warriors were especially sloppy or making awful decisions. They just kept missing, and they seemed frustrated.
McCaw the starter
Rookie wing Patrick McCaw got the start in Durant’s absence, and he had an interesting evening. His stat line -- 11 points, 4-for-5, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block -- looks perfectly fine, but it’s hard to watch him and not be left wanting more. There is a thin line between letting the game come to you and just not being aggressive enough, and McCaw is the latter too often. That’s understandable based on who’s on the floor with him, but Golden State surely wants him to look for his shot and put the ball on the floor every once in a while. He has all the tools to be a part of the Warriors’ playoff rotation, and the next month will be a chance for him to prove that he deserves it.
Curry moves up the ranks again
Steph won’t celebrate this accomplishment on a night like this, but it’s worth noting that he passed Kobe Bryant for 11th on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made list. He hit his 1,828th 3-pointer on a broken play in the third quarter:
Kerr the clipboard breaker
Golden State coach Steve Kerr talked pregame about how his team’s margin of error would be smaller without Durant, insisting that it needed to take care of the little things like boxing out, not getting beat backdoor and getting loose balls. In the third quarter, Kerr broke a clipboard because he didn’t think the players were doing that.
“It’s not about making or missing shots,” Kerr said, via the San Jose Mercury News’ Anthony Slater. “It’s about details in between, especially on a night when they’re not going in. There were some plays out there where I just didn’t feel like we competed and got after the ball. You got to get those loose balls, long rebounds. A couple of skirmishes there where we didn’t come up with the ball -- in the end, those kill you.”