Derrick Rose showed up.
The often-criticized point guard scored 21 of his team’s first 40 points against the defending NBA champions.
Jimmy Butler made his appearance in the second half, dropping in 10 of his team’s first 12 points, and actually giving his team some third-quarter false hope.
The rest of the Bulls? Flat-line. A performance in which 11 other individuals simply put on uniforms and had free admission to watching the NBA’s modern version of “Showtime.’’
And just like that, the machine that is the Golden State Warriors rolled through town, claiming another victim, 125-94.
“Obviously they’re a team that can go on unbelievable spurts, and those spurts sometimes last for 48 minutes if you just … you got to try and weather them,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said of Golden State’s latest clinic. “They’re so good at hitting tough shots. You can follow the game plan perfectly, they could hit a tough shot right in your face, and you just can’t put your head down. As soon as you do that, that’s when they jump all over you.’’
Jump they did, and very early on.
As expected, Rose took the showdown with Stephen Curry very personal, and had no problem sending a message very early – one former MVP to another. Rose went 5-for-6 in just under six minutes of play in the first quarter, as the Bulls (24-17) stood toe-to-toe with the 39-4 first-place Warriors.
That only had staying power for so long.
“It’s not about that, though,’’ Rose said afterwards, when asked about going right at Curry. “It’s more as a team, like we had a good shootaround, had a good practice, it’s just that the game I guess.’’
By the end of the first quarter it was 34-18 Warriors, and by halftime the lead was 63-44.
But Rose showing up was just half the story. It was who didn’t show up that took center stage.
Pau Gasol went 0-for-8 with one point and eight rebounds. Tony Snell scored just two points, and Taj Gibson had just four points. That’s three starters combing for seven points.
Then there was Nikola Mirotic, who is playing like he needs therapy lately. To say that the second-year player’s confidence looks shot is an understatement. Mirotic only saw 14 minutes of work, and most of it was bad, as he went 0-for-5 and was a mere witness on defense.
Hoiberg stood by both Mirotic and Gasol, insisting that both players would be fine, but that didn’t change their performances on Wednesday.
The only real sign of life came midway through the third, after a Butler jumper cut the lead to 67-56. Then “Showtime’’ kicked in, as the Warriors went on a run of three-pointers and alley-oop dunks, receiving very little resistance from the home team.
“They kept attacking,’’ Hoiberg said. “We played our best part of the game to cut it to 11, and they were obviously the aggressors the rest of the game.’’
By the time the third ended, the lead was 24, and the Bulls could start the game prep for Boston on Friday.
Rose finished the game with 29 points, while Butler added 23. As for the Warriors All-Star backcourt, Curry had 25 and Klay Thompson finished with 20.
Rather than completely credit the Warriors, however, Rose said the culprit was looking this team in the mirror once again.
“It was a lot to do with us,’’ Rose said. “You don’t have communication on the defensive side of the ball when you play against a team like that, it will get how it got tonight. It could get ugly and it showed.’’