Game Recap: Bulls 103, Warriors 87

The Good:
Talk about controlling the backboards. Chicago’s starting frontcourt was totally dominant in this game, combining for 41 rebounds to go with 45 points. Carlos Boozer (15 points and 13 rebounds), Jimmy Butler (16 points and 12 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14 points and 16 rebounds) all finished with double-doubles. What’s more, they combined to pull down 15 of the team’s 16 offensive rebounds.

Not bad considering the Bulls were playing a 26-16 team that was coming off back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Clippers (32-12) and Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10)…two of the best teams in basketball.

Said Noah: “We just went after it, went after the ball. We knew they were playing some really good basketball and I think we played with the right edge tonight. We played probably one of our best games.”

Overall, the Bulls outrebounded the Warriors 56-37 and outscored them 30-6 in second-chance points.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “It’s huge. Jo was terrific — offense, defense, rebounding, energy. Carlos, his rebounding and just his presence inside, his cutting and screening led to fouls, which got us to the free throw line, got us established inside, opened some things up for us.”

The Better:
Chicago’s one-two punch at point guard delivered the knockout blows. Kirk Hinrich (season-high 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting) and Nate Robinson (22 points on 10-for-16 shooting) were absolutely on fire. Hinrich was a red-hot 6-for-7 from downtown and repeatedly punished the Warriors for sagging off him on D.

Said Captain Kirk: “The guys set me up with some great plays. I was hitting shots and they just kept finding me.”

Hinrich and Robinson also combined for 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and only 3 turnovers.

Said Thibodeau: “I thought Kirk and Nate were terrific together. They played well off each other. It’s one of the reasons we signed Kirk. He has played both the positions and played both well. He and Nate can go back and forth.”

Added Robinson: “It was just fun, man. [Hinrich’s] the captain of the team, he’s the leader and he had us going. For us, the ball finds energy. Kirky had great energy today. Each guy did, including myself, but we just feed and play off each other. It just happened and just felt natural. When you’re out there playing basketball and you’re having fun, the ball — it doesn’t care who gets the credit. The ball hops and we’re just having fun and knocking down shots.”

Key Stats Part 1:
The Bulls — thanks largely to Hinrich’s hot hand — were 9-for-20 (45 percent) from three-point range.

The Warriors — due mostly to Chicago’s aggressive defense — went 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) on threes. Mind you, Golden State ranks second in the league in three-point percentage.

The Bulls proved once again that shutting down the three-point shot is a big key to holding down offensively explosive teams.

Key Stats Part 2:
According to Hoopdata, the Bulls converted more shots at the rim (19) than the Warriors even attempted (16). Both Chicago and Golden State converted a high rate of their attempts at the hoop — 73 and 75 percent, respectively — but the Bulls were largely successful in forcing contested shots away from the basket.

The Warriors were 0-for-7 from 3-9 feet, 2-for-7 (28 percent) from 10-15 feet and 9-for-27 (33 percent) from 16-23 feet. That means 46 of their 78 field goal attempts were launched from 16 feet or further out…and they converted only 28 percent of those shots.

The Butler Did It Again:
Jimmy Butler…oh my God. Luol Deng leads the league in minutes per game and does a little bit of everything for the Bulls. And, with Derrick Rose still rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee, Deng is the team’s floor leader and game closer. So when he went down with a minor hamstring injury…things looked bad.

Enter Butler.

The second-year man out of Maquette has stepped in and the Bulls have barely missed a thing. He’s done an adequate job scoring, his rebounding has been fantastic and his defense has been as good and at times even better than Deng’s. He also provides things — like speed and athleticism — that Deng does not.

I’m not suggesting that Butler is better than Deng. But the kid is playing at an extremely high level right now. Here are his stats for the last five games:

At Boston: 13 points, 4-for-5, 4 rebounds
Versus Memphis: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Versus the Lakers: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal (and great D on Kobe)
Versus Detroit: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Versus Golden State: 16 points, 6-for-10, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist

What’s more…Butler has 17 offensive rebounds over those five games.

The Goats:
Taj Gibson had a rough outing. He finished with zero points on 0-for-4 shooting and had more personal fouls (4) than rebounds (3). Ditto for Marco Belinelli (3 points on 1-for-5 shooting).

According to the AP recap, the Warriors haven’t won in Chicago since January 18, 2008. Baron Davis — remember him? — dropped 40 on the Bulls, who featured a starting lineup of Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Joe Smith, Thabo Sefolosha and Ben Wallace. My how times have changes.

Quote of the Night:
Noah: “That’s the beauty of this team, man. A lot of guys can step up. Nate Robinson again, huge for us. Kirky Worky, huge for us. Jimmy Boy, huge for us. Carlos, huge for us. It’s just that everybody came in with the right mindset, right edge. It’s a big win.”

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-by-Play, Shot Chart.

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