Rested Warriors eager to pounce on visiting Bulls
The Golden State Warriors will be back from a little in-season vacation when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in Oakland, Calif.
The Warriors (27-14) will be playing just their second game -- both at home -- in six days, and the first one hardly counts. It was against a New York Knicks team that was sleep-walking on the second night of a back-to-back set cruelly placed at the end of a 13-day trip.
Golden State won 122-95, after which reporters heard Klay Thompson ask Stephen Curry, "When's the last time we blew somebody out, 2016?"
Given the circumstances, Golden State's backcourt could be asking the same question Friday, when the well-rested Warriors take on a Bulls team that has lost five in a row, including the opener of a road trip that's about as tough as they come in the NBA these days.
Chicago (10-31) began the rough patch with a competitive 124-112 loss at Portland.
After facing the Warriors, the Bulls will still have to deal with Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver before heading home.
The Bulls team that will perform in Oakland on Friday will hardly resemble the group that was shellacked 149-124 when the clubs met in Chicago in October.
In that game, the Warriors scored the most points ever in their series against the Bulls, while the Bulls scored the most points for a losing team in the series since a Michael Jordan-led 140-125 win in 1985.
Justin Holiday, who has since been traded, and Cameron Payne, who has been waived, started in the October meeting for the Bulls. They have been replaced by Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, both of whom were injured at the time.
Dunn's return has given the Bulls a look at their backcourt of the future, with the 24-year-old pairing with 23-year-old Zach LaVine.
They combined for 33 points in the Portland game, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with Trail Blazers standouts Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who put up a total of 40.
Now it's on to Curry and Thompson, and LaVine believes he and his mate are ready.
"It's competition. You want to go out there and prove yourself against them," he told reporters after the Portland game. "Everyone in the NBA is very competitive and prideful. So you want to go at them."
The soft schedule has afforded the Warriors more practice time than usual, which has helped injured center DeMarcus Cousins prove he's close to making his season debut after suffering an Achilles injury while playing for New Orleans last January.
Cousins is aiming to play Jan. 18 at the Los Angeles Clippers, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr saying Thursday that Cousins would be the starting center when he makes his debut.
"After that, everything is on the table," Kerr said.
"We have to figure out what the rotation is going to look like, how many minutes he can play. We'll have to play around with the minutes, the combinations, the sets. We haven't had a player like him here before."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019