Stingy defense gives Bulls impressive win over Warriors

Whether Kevin Durant was in uniform or not, everyone expects the Golden State Warriors to start knocking down 3-pointers at some point in a 48-minute game.

Durant is out indefinitely with a knee injury and the Warriors weren't the same without him Thursday. Golden State went 0-for-11 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter and the Bulls pulled off an impressive 94-87 victory at the United Center.

The Warriors lost two straight regular season games for the first time since April 5 and 7, 2015. The Bulls' inexplicable TNT streak grew to 18 wins in a row. The Bulls haven't lost a home game televised by TNT since Feb. 21, 2013.

"They missed a lot of shots they can make," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 22 points. "We all know that. Down a key player ... but a win is a win. We'll take it however we can get it."

Either the Bulls (31-30) played their best defense of the season or the Warriors were way out of sorts. Heading into this one, Golden State had failed to score 100 points just twice in 60 games this season.

Against the Bulls, the Warriors managed season lows in points and field-goal percentage (.386). Golden State's previous worst shooting night of the season was 41.4 percent.

"That's where everything has to start for us," Butler said. "When we start trying to outscore teams, we'll lose the majority of the time. When we bunker down and play good defense, we put ourselves in great position."

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined to hit just 3 of 22 attempts from 3-point range. As a team, the Warriors went 6-for-30 from behind the arc. This actually continued a slump for Curry. He was a career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range earlier this week in Philadelphia and is now 4-for-31 over his last three games.

"We've had a couple in a row where shots we normally make don't fall," Curry said. "That's not the reason we lost. We've just got to understand early in games we can't take our foot off the gas pedal at all."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg settled on a closing lineup of Butler, Dwyane Wade, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio and Paul Zipser. The Bulls stumbled around offensively and gave up the lead, but Butler got himself to the foul line and hit 2 free throws with 2:53 left to put the Bulls up by 1.

Wade hit a foul line fadeaway to put the Bulls up by 3, then Zipser added the dagger, a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 91-85 with 1:41 left. Zipser (9 points) was playing for the first time after missing three weeks with an ankle injury.

"He really kind of solidified himself as our sixth man and a guy who was closing games for us," Hoiberg said of Zipser. "Paul, we really missed him, there's no doubt about that. He's got size, he's got length, he can put it on the floor and he can really defend.

This wasn't a bad night for the Bulls' youth movement. Portis was literally the best player on the floor in the first half. He piled up 14 points and 6 rebounds before intermission, making a variety of nice plays and knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. Portis finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Point guard Jerian Grant looked like a grade-schooler at times trying to guard Curry. But Grant also crossed over Curry once, causing a stumble, and drained an open 3-pointer.

Get the latest Bulls news via Twitter by following @McGrawDHBulls.

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