Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls knew exactly how to take advantage of a tired opponent.
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Luol Deng scored 26 points, Rose had 22 and Chicago raced to a 30-point lead in the first half en route to a 120-90 romp over the weary Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
”When you see a team come in on a back-to-back you’ve got to get up on offense and get down the court and push the ball,” Rose said. ”It starts with the defense getting a lot of deflections, guys rebound the ball good and push it. That’s when we’re dangerous.”
Rose added 13 assists for his third double-double of the season. He finished one assist shy of his career best, which he’s increased twice already this season. Rose is handing out 9.6 assists per game, 3.3 better than he averaged in either of his first two NBA seasons.
Monta Ellis had 24 points to lead the Warriors, who pulled out a 122-117 victory in New York on Wednesday night. Stephen Curry added 17 points for Golden State, which played without ailing forward David Lee.
”We were short-handed without David,” Curry said. ”But there’s no excuse for playing that bad.”
Bulls guard Keith Bogans had his best game of the season, with 14 points and six steals. He also did a nice job defensively of keeping Ellis under control.
”Monta is one of the best scorers in the league,” Bogans said. ”At practice they were killing me today, saying he might have 50 tonight.
”I went home and got ready to play. I wanted to come in and make everything tough for him. He’s a great player. And they did a great job of helping me out also.”
Rose and Deng combined for 39 points in a first half that Chicago dominated in every facet of the game. The Bulls outrebounded Golden State 26-20 and forced 11 turnovers (leading to 21 points) while committing only four. They outshot the Warriors 53.1 percent to 39.1 percent.
Still, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he was never really satisfied with the big lead.
”You never feel comfortable with them,” Thibodeau said. ”They can score quickly. I thought it was important for us to get off to a lead and play from a lead. The way they score points, you can never relax.”
The Warriors looked tired one night after their win at Madison Square Garden. In that game, Lee sustained a cut on his left elbow when he inadvertently struck former Knicks teammate Wilson Chandler in the mouth.
The blow shattered one of Chandler’s teeth into four pieces and dislodged another. One of the bits of tooth ended up in Lee’s arm. Lee was able to finish the game, scoring a season-high 28 points, but the wound became so sore afterward that Lee said he couldn’t remember experiencing so much pain. He sat out Thursday, with Brandan Wright starting in his place.
Lee’s presence might not have made much of a difference for the listless Warriors. The Bulls were quicker to the ball and in transition, and Golden State was flat-footed defensively, leading to several easy baseline buckets for the Bulls. Two of those were two-handed dunks by Rose, bringing the crowd to its feet in what was largely a laid-back atmosphere.
Warriors coach Keith Smart said he could sense his team’s lack of ”juice” before the game.
”You know,” Smart said. ”You can see the juice is just not there. You want to play your starters as long as you can because sometimes, they may fool you.
”No question the Bulls had the upper hand in terms of the energy department.”
Perhaps most indicative of the Warriors’ lack of energy was the fact that Chicago committed a franchise-low seven fouls. The Bulls committed an average of 25 fouls during their first six games, more than all but three NBA teams. Golden State took only seven free throws in the game.
”We started off aggressive,” Thibodeau said. ”We were shrinking the floor and moving our feet. I thought we did a better job of making them play in a crowd.”
The win was important for a Chicago squad that has one more home game before heading out on a seven-game road swing. That’s the annual sojourn known as the ”Circus Trip” because the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus reserves the United Center during the second half of each November, forcing the Bulls on a long trip.
Golden State finishes a five-game road trip of its own against Milwaukee on Saturday. The loss to the Bulls dropped the Warriors to 2-2 on the trip, but their 6-3 start is still impressive considering Golden State opened 3-8 last season on its way to a 26-56 record.
Notes: Lee said his arm felt better Thursday and he hopes to be able to play Saturday. … Ellis entered second in the NBA in scoring at 27.1 points per game. … Chicago’s Joakim Noah had 17 points and seven rebounds, the first time this season he did not record a double-double.