OAKLAND, Calif. -- It took overtime, a hero ball game-winner, a season-high 43 minutes for Derrick Rose and a bucketful of dodged bullets, but Chicago managed to pull off one of the toughest feats in the NBA today and dealt Golden State a loss at Oracle Arena.
As far as wars of attrition go, it doesn't get much more entertaining that the Bulls' surprising 113-111 victory on Tuesday. Chicago took the court without two starters, likely All-Star Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy while Golden State was forced to grapple with Chicago's super-sized frontline without starting center Andrew Bogut, who was forced to the locker room with an illness.
Those who did play engaged in 53 minutes that seemed composed entirely of highlights and miscues. Rose delivered the game-winner on a night when he scored 30 points, but committed a career-high 11 turnovers (against just one assist). His foil, Stephen Curry, brought the house down with a gorgeous no-look pass but missed countless open looks on his way to a 9-for-23 shooting night. And then there was Klay Thompson, who barely touched iron while scoring 15 first-quarter points, but went scoreless in the game's final eight minutes and couldn't get the bounce on a leaner that could have forced double overtime.
Chicago will rightfully savor this victory, and not just because Rose was able to deliver like the good old days. The Bulls' frontline of Joakim Noah, who recently returned from injury, and Pau Gasol established their presence, combining for 13 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points. Late in the fourth quarter, Gasol found Noah for baskets twice, setting the stage for a game-tying three by Kirk Hinrich.
In overtime, Noah turned yet another offensive rebound into a putback, setting the stage for Rose's winner. There were stretches where the Noah/Gasol pairing appeared to make life difficult for their teammates to adequately space out, calling into question how coach Tom Thibodeau will handle his big man rotations if all of his players are available to him. For a night, though, their persistence and length won out.
"I thought Jo was great tonight," Thibodeau said. "His best game of the year. He has a lot of pride. The last three or four days he's been working like crazy. ... The extra work he put in and the way he played was terrific."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr lamented the 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' moments in his team's first home loss since Nov. 11 (against the Spurs), snapping a franchise-record 19-game home winning streak. Despite opening up a double-digit lead in the first half, Golden State never seemed to be able to connect on the back-breaking three-pointer that it needed. Instead of sparking a final fourth-quarter push, Curry's over-the-shoulder dish to Lee was followed up by multiple empty offensive trips.
At the end of regulation, Draymond Green made an incredible second-effort tip in to force overtime, but Golden State -- the league's No. 1 offense -- then managed only four points in the extra period, with Curry, Green, Thompson and Harrison Barnes all coming up empty on three-point attempts.
"We won 19 straight games at home, and we were probably due for one," Kerr said.
The degree-of-difficulty for Chicago, regardless of Golden State's missteps can't be understated. Put simply, the Warriors have been the NBA's best home team this season by a mile, to the point that they are tracking towards making history.
Here's a look at how Golden State stacks up to the rest of the NBA at home in 2014-15, including Tuesday night's game. Note that the Warriors have the league's best record at home (21-2), the league's best offense at home (113.8 offensive rating), and the league's fourth-best defense (96.3 defensive rating) at home. But to really gauge their home-court dominance relative to the other 29 teams, it's best to look at their net rating.
Not only do the Warriors rank No. 1 in that category, they rank No. 1 by a mile. The Warriors' net rating at home is +17.5, vastly superior to the rest of the top five: the Clippers (+9.2), the Mavericks (+8.8), the Hawks (+8.1) and the Blazers (+8.1). Check out a full 30-team comparison chart by clicking here, or look at the smaller version and gawk at the Warriors' bar, which totally dwarfs the other 29 teams.
|Year||Team||Games||Home Record||Off. Rating||Def. Rating||Net Rating||Result|
As that chart suggests, dominant play at home during the regular season often translates into significant postseason success. Seven of the top nine teams with the best net ratings at home went on to make the conference finals. Two of the seven -- the 2005 Spurs and the 2008 Celtics -- won it all.
That level of dominance is only achieved by marrying an excellent team with a diehard fan base. Kerr attributed his team's home success in part to the "really loud" nature of the building, and he pointed to a number of examples from history -- the Jazz, Nuggets and his old Bulls -- as evidence of what can happen when the chemistry between team and building is right. Warriors fans are understandably in a frenzy, not only because this team will very likely set a franchise-record for victories but also because Curry is captaining the league's most entertaining outfit. In his pregame comments, Kerr suggested that Golden State could do a better job of matching the crowd's intensity, noting that his team has been on "cruise control" a bit lately because 12 of their last 15 games have been at home.
Golden State's streak was ultimately snapped not because of effort, but because not enough shots fell. That uncharacteristic cold spell, and the moments of occasional late-game indecision that preceded it, opened the door just wide enough for Rose, who willed home a long jumper over Thompson with seven seconds remaining in overtime.
"That is the same shot I would take if I was at the United Center or anywhere," Rose said. "It was a step-back jump shot. I'm comfortable with that shot and [Thompson] jumped so I was able to get a little bit over. I'm just happy we were able to get the game over."
Oracle Arena emptied in near-silence, as the 19,000+ fans looked to be struggling to remember what watching a loss feels like.