There seemed to be some danger lurking at the United Center on Friday.
During the all-star reserve revelation special on Thursday, the TNT analysts went on and on about what a shame, travesty and mockery of justice that Golden State guard Stephen Curry didn’t make the Western Conference squad.
That’s usually the cue for a big scoring night by a player who’s ready to show the NBA nation he deserved a nod. Another reason for Bulls fans to worry was the Warriors winning back-to-back home games against the Clippers and Oklahoma City this week.
Instead, the Bulls set the tone early and rolled to an easy 103-87 victory over Golden State. The Bulls led 30-11 in the first quarter and their lead never dropped into single digits the rest of the way.
“There was a good calmness, but also a readiness and sense of urgency at the same time,” said Kirk Hinrich. “I think we kind of had that edge.”
An all-star, a snub and a bystander dominated the opening minutes for the Bulls. Joakim Noah was named an all-star for the first time and he set the tone defensively. Carlos Boozer, a strong candidate who didn’t make the team, owned the boards.
Then Hinrich, no one’s all-star candidate this season, came out on fire. He hit 6 of 7 shots from 3-point range on the way to a season-high 25 points. He hadn’t scored 20 points in a game all season until tallying 22 against the Lakers on Monday.
“My shot’s felt good all year, it really has,” Hinrich said. “I was just focused on the matchup (with Curry). He’s a very skilled player, one of the best shooters in this league and it’s a tough cover.”
Curry finished with 21 points but didn’t fare well defensively. When Hinrich took a rest, Nate Robinson lit up the Warriors for 22 points. It was going so well, coach Tom Thibodeau played Hinrich and Robinson together at times against Golden State’s small lineup.
All three of the Bulls’ starters on the front line collected double-doubles. Noah finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds, Boozer had 15 points and 13 boards, while Jimmy Butler added 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Noah apparently took being named an all-star very seriously.
“I didn’t sleep a lot last night. I’m pretty tired right now,” he said. “I think with it comes responsibility. It’s not going to make me change my game. I feel like one of the reasons why I was voted in was my hustle and things like that.”
The Bulls jumped to early leads of 12-2 and 25-9. Then they scored on their first 11 possessions of the second quarter, while not giving up a single rebound. The Bulls hit 11 of their first 17 shots in the quarter and grabbed all 6 offensive boards.
Golden State (26-16) started the night ranked No. 1 in the league in defensive rebounding percentage. The Bulls posted a 56-37 rebounding advantage. Warriors all-star forward David Lee finished with 6 rebounds, to go with 23 points.
“We just went after the ball,” Noah said. “We knew that they were playing some really good basketball and I think we played with the right edge tonight. We just played probably one of our best games.”
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