The Golden State Warriors have experienced far different results on the first two stops of their road trip against Eastern Conference contenders. The third and final matchup is with a team trying to prove it isn't slipping from the East's elite.
The Warriors look to avoid their third loss in a week Wednesday night when they face the Chicago Bulls, who just started life without Joakim Noah.
Golden State (38-4) dropped two of three last week for the first time since the NBA Finals, concluding with an uncharacteristically poor offensive showing in Saturday's 113-95 loss to Detroit to open this trip.
The Warriors avoided consecutive losses for the first time this season in resounding fashion, though, pounding East-leading Cleveland 132-98 on Monday. The NBA's highest-scoring team followed a season-low 36.2-percent shooting performance by making 54.1 percent overall and 19 of 40 3-pointers. They held a 30-point advantage in the first half and led by as many as 43.
The starters sat out the final quarter, but Stephen Curry still scored 35 points and Draymond Green added 16, 10 assists and seven rebounds to help Golden State snap its two-game road skid.
"The first three quarters, that's who we know we can be," interim coach Luke Walton said. "They were absolutely phenomenal. We can't really ask to play much better than that."
Losses in three of five games hasn't happened for the Warriors in the regular season since December 2014, but they close their trip at a place where they haven't won much in the last 14 years.
Though Golden State has taken three of the last five overall matchups, Chicago has won 11 of 13 at the United Center dating to February 2002.
The Warriors took the first meeting this season 106-94 on Nov. 20 behind 27 points from Curry. The Bulls were paced by Jimmy Butler's 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but Derrick Rose, backup point guard Aaron Brooks and Bobby Portis didn't play.
Chicago (24-16) dropped three straight from Jan. 9-12 but has since won two of three after a 111-101 victory at Detroit on Monday.
The Bulls are looking for their first winning streak since rattling off six in a row Dec. 28-Jan. 7, a stretch that seemed to return them to their status as a top contender in the East. But after allowing opponents to average 98.2 points during that run, Chicago has surrendered 105.8 in six games - and its defense suffered a hit when Noah left Friday's 83-77 loss to Dallas with a dislocated shoulder.
The center will miss four to six months after surgery, likely costing him the rest of the season. Chicago, though, is 9-2 without the former Defensive Player of the Year.
"I'm not going to say that we're over him or we don't need him. We need him for sure," Rose said. "But we're professionals. We know that once someone goes out, somebody has to step in and do that job, and we believe in everybody on this team."
The Bulls were outrebounded 50-38 by the Pistons for their first disadvantage on the boards in 12 games. Chicago leads the league with 48.8 rebounds per game while Golden State is close behind at 46.5. Noah was averaging 8.8 boards.