While they haven’t been as efficient as usual, the Golden State Warriors are finding ways to get it done.
Grinding out another win, though, could prove difficult in Chicago, where the Bulls have controlled the series of late.
Hoping to get David Lee back, the Warriors try to make it five in a row when they visit the surging Bulls on Wednesday night.
Golden State (35-22) is on the verge of its second-longest winning streak of the season after opening a six-game trip with Monday’s 104-96 victory at Detroit. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson scored 19 points apiece and Jermaine O’Neal had 16 and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors were outscored 54-26 in the paint, but they held the Pistons to 40.4 percent shooting and outscored them 23-13 in the fourth quarter.
"It’s not necessarily going to be flash and fun every night," said O’Neal, who had season highs of 23 points and 13 boards two nights earlier against Brooklyn. "If we’re going to have a chance to really compete for a championship, these are the types of games you’re going to have to win in the playoffs. We have a fairly young team and these games like this build the character and the image of the team."
Golden State is shooting 43.6 percent and 32.0 percent from 3-point range during its run, down from its season marks of 45.7 and 37.9. Curry, leading the team with 24.2 points per game, has averaged 18.5 in the four since the All-Star break.
"There’s definitely a lot more to be accomplished," said Curry, whose team has won 11 of 14 on the road after opening 6-9. "Our expectations are high and this is a good checkpoint for us to keep that up. It’s nice to know in my five years this is the best it’s been, so that’s a good feeling, but we want more."
Curry was at his best in a 102-87 win over the Bulls on Feb. 6, posting 34 points and nine assists while shooting 13 of 19. A repeat performance could be hard to come by in Chicago, where Golden State has dropped 20 of 24, including four straight by an average of 18.3 points.
Chicago (30-26) has won six of seven after pulling out a 107-103 victory at Atlanta on Tuesday. Former Warrior Mike Dunleavy led seven Bulls in double figures with 22 points and Joakim Noah added 20 and 12 rebounds as Chicago battled back from 14 down in the first quarter.
"They put us in a hole; we fought out of it," Dunleavy said. "We just had to battle the whole game."
Carlos Boozer also came up big with 17 points and 11 boards and Kirk Hinrich scored 14, including six free throws in the final 41 seconds. Chicago went 25 of 29 from the foul line while the Hawks were 13 of 16.
"I think they really wanted that game," Noah said of Atlanta. "We really wanted that game, too. It wasn’t pretty at times. I’m just happy we were able to come out with the win."
Noah is averaging 18.0 points and 12.7 boards while shooting 66.7 percent in the last three contests.
Bulls guard Jimmy Butler is uncertain to play after sitting out back-to-back games with bruised ribs.
The Warriors are hoping to see Lee return after missing the last two games due to the stomach flu. He was averaging 24.0 points and 12.0 rebounds during a three-game stretch before getting sick.