Donovan tweaks starting lineup but results the same in loss to Golden State
If Devin Booker could light up the Bulls' defense for 51 points in just three quarters on Wednesday night, what would Golden State's Steph Curry accomplish?
Bulls coach Billy Donovan didn't want to sit back and find out.
He made a change to the starting lineup when the Bulls took on the Warriors in San Francisco late Friday night. Alex Caruso and Javonte Green were in, while Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams came off the bench.
For most of the night, the Bulls were not very competitive against the Warriors. Trailing by 18 in the fourth quarter, they made a frantic rally and got within 1, but Golden State held on for a 119-111 victory to win their 11th straight in the series.
The Bulls trailed by 102-84 with 9:29 remaining before Goran Dragic hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give them some life.
When Zach LaVine hit a 3-pointer off an inbound pass, the Bulls were within 110-109 with 2:27 remaining. On the other end, though, Draymond Green buried a 3. After DeMar DeRozan had his shot blocked, Klay Thompson hit 2 free throws to stretch the lead to six.
On the Bulls' next trip, Curry was called for his sixth foul against LaVine, but the Warriors challenged the call and won. A missed 3 by Nikola Vucevic with 1:10 left essentially ended the comeback.
Vucevic led the Bulls with 23 points, LaVine had 21 and DeRozan 16. Jordan Poole led Golden State with 30 points, while Thompson finished with 26.
After the sluggish loss in Phoenix, Donovan complained about the team's inconsistency and hinted he'd take a close look at what went wrong.
"At times we can be two different teams," Donovan said in Phoenix. "We can be like the team in Utah (on Monday) that's really helping each other and we're kind of on a string and moving. And there's other times we're not like that."
Golden State uses a smaller front line, which made it easier to start the smaller Green instead of Williams. But this was mostly about having some veterans on the floor who have more experience dealing with the switching, cutting, 3-point heavy offense of the Warriors.
Bulls leading scorer DeMar DeRozan had just 3 points in the first half, going 0-for-6 from the field. Center Nikola Vucevic led with 15 points in the first half, while Zach LaVine had 10.
Jordan Poole hit 4 first-half 3-pointers to push Golden State to the early lead. Klay Thompson scored 14 and Curry 12 in the opening half.
The Bulls had a miserable end to the first half. Vucevic missed a point-blank post-hook that would have but Golden State's lead to a point. On the other end, Curry hit a 3 while Caruso brushed against him. The foul was called and Curry finished a 4-point play.
But that wasn't the end. LaVine picked up his fourth foul with 10.9 seconds left against low-scoring center Kevon Looney. When Looney missed the second rebound, Thompson snagged the rebound and Donte DiVincenzo drained a 3 to put the Warriors up 63-52 at intermission.
Some Bulls buzz flashed on social media Friday when ESPN's Zach Lowe mentioned on his podcast the Lakers have had internal discussions about whether to trade for DeRozan and Vucevic, supposedly for Russell Westbrook's expiring contract and first-round picks.
This is a hypothetical scenario even if the information is correct. If the Bulls are floundering at midseason, they'll certainly explore the possibility of trading Vucevic, who is in the final year of his contract. Trading DeRozan seems less likely, but it is conceivable. DeRozan has one year left on his deal after this season.