In a matchup between the #10 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference Monday night at the Chase Center, Stephen Curry returned from a five-game absence and recorded a game-high 32 points to propel the Golden State Warriors to a much-needed 116-102 win over the Chicago Bulls.
With both teams entering the contest Monday amidst widening losing streaks and struggling to maintain a hold on their respective playoff destinies, it was the Warriors’ 2x MVP Stephen Curry who was the difference maker, returning from injury and playing through discernable pain on his way to a triumphant 32 points, six assists, and five rebounds in just 30 minutes.
In the face of having missed five games due to a bruised tailbone, Curry came out of the gates firing in the first quarter, connecting on three of his first four attempts from long distance before landing hard on his backside and sitting most of the second quarter with a heat wrap tied around it.
“The first three from the right wing is up and good! Welcome back, Stephen Curry!”— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 30, 2021
Globetrotter-esque 💫 pic.twitter.com/RRbr4JKstJ— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 30, 2021
The game was close throughout, and the Warriors could not pull away until the end of the third quarter, unable to fully empty the bench until there were less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Despite entering the game with the NBA’s fifth-best defensive field-goal percentage, as one of the teams making it most difficult for their opponents to put the ball in the basket, their recent losing skid has been accentuated by a lack of urgency and effort on the defensive end.
However, the Dubs were able to hold Chicago’s All-Star Zach LaVine to just 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting. LaVine entered the game averaging 27.9 points on nearly 52% shooting from the field. The Warriors also forced the Bulls into 19 turnovers, which proved to be costly for their opponent down the stretch.
Kelly Oubre Jr. was big for the Warriors with 18 points and 11 boards, while Andrew Wiggins quietly chipped in 21 points of his own on 8-of-15 from the field and helped to anchor the defense with Draymond Green. Many fans and analysts alike were befuddled as the NBA trade deadline came to a close last week and neither Oubre Jr. nor Wiggins were dealt, but the Warriors front office likes what they have currently, and believe the team is poised to make a serious run at the playoffs right now.
Green, who didn’t take a shot in the previous game against the Atlanta Hawks, hit one from splash-brother distance on his way to 11 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.
"I've told you guys the last couple weeks, I think we're going to make a run down the stretch," head coach Steve Kerr said in his post game press conference. "I really believe that, and I thought tonight's game showed you why I believe that can happen. We were pretty good out there tonight and there's no reason why we can't continue this and get on a good streak."
The Warriors will head out on a three-game road trip that begins with the Heat in Miami this Thursday, April 1st at 5:00 PM PST.
Top Image: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images