Warriors fall to Bulls for first losing streak in two years

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[March 03, 2017]  CHICAGO -- All season long, the Chicago Bulls have thrived against the NBA's elite while struggling to hold their own against the league's also-rans.

And while Jimmy Butler can't explain what clicks against top-tier teams and not against others, he knows at some point, the Bulls need to find ways to string wins together if they are going to remain in contention for a playoff spot. No matter which opponent they are playing.

Butler scored 22 points, Bobby Portis added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Bulls recorded a 94-87 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

The Warriors (50-11) absorbed back-to-back, regular-season losses for the first time in nearly two years, ending their NBA-record streak at 146 games.

The Bulls (31-30) had four scorers reach double figures in winning for the fifth time in six games and posting yet another victory on the big stage. Chicago beat the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers last weekend without LeBron James.

On Thursday night, they toppled the Warriors, who lost for the second straight game since Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury that will sideline him indefinitely.

"I think when it's (against) the prime-time guys, everyone wants to show they can play," Butler said. "I don't have a problem with that, but now, you treat everybody like a prime-time guy because that's what it is in this league.

"Everybody can play, so we have to show up every single night."

The Warriors were led by Steph Curry's 23 points, but they struggled to hit shots, especially from 3-point range, where they finished 6 of 30. Klay Thompson scored 13 points to help pace a balanced scoring attack among Golden State's starters. Still, the Warriors managed a season low in points and field-goal percentage (38.6 percent).

"A couple of shots we normally make did not fall," said Curry, who was 10 of 27 from the field. "That's not the reason we lost."

Curry made just 2 off 11 3-point attempts, leaving him 4 of 31 from long distance over the past three games. Thompson was 1 of 11 from behind the arc Thursday.

The loss marked the first time the Warriors dropped consecutive games in the regular season since April 2015. But coach Steve Kerr, like Curry, said the Warriors' shooting woes were only part of the problem.

"You are not always going to shoot well," Kerr said. "When that happens, the ball is gold. You have to value each possession. Our intensity and focus was not there."

Dwyane Wade, who scored 12 points, gave the Bulls an 88-85 lead with 2:16 remaining. Chicago's Paul Zipser then closed out a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, extending the lead to six points with 1:41 to play.

The Bulls closed out the game from the free-throw line while the Warriors continued to misfire from outside.

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Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Patrick McCaw (0) during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago improved to 19-4 this season when holding opponents under 100 points. The strong defensive effort helped wipe out a four-point halftime deficit. The Bulls used a 10-0 run in the third quarter to surge ahead before holding off the cold-shooting Warriors down the stretch.

"Our defense hasn't been good of late," Wade said. "I thought today, our attention to detail was phenomenal. They missed some shots -- even some of them open. But that's part of the game."

Portis continued to make the most of the new-found opportunities that have come his way since Taj Gibson was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. But while Portis has been playing well of late, he -- along with Zipser and the Bulls other young players -- rose to the occasion in yet another impressive victory against a top team.

"It doesn't mean anything extra -- it's a big win for us," Portis said. "Of course, we needed it after (losing) the last game -- just to bounce back. But I feel like each and every guy in this room is fighting for something bigger. We're fighting for playoff position."

NOTES: Warriors F Matt Barnes made his debut Thursday after signing with Golden State earlier in the day, and he scored two points in 12 minutes. The 36-year-old was signed after F Kevin Durant was lost with a sprained left MCL and bone bruise. Barnes, who played for the Warriors from 2006-08, appeared in 54 games with Sacramento this season before being released. "I love his competitive desire," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He's crazy in a good way." ... Kerr said Durant is in better spirits since receiving a second diagnosis after the original one when it was feared Durant could miss the remainder of the season. ... Bulls F Paul Zipser returned after missing seven games due to ankle tendinitis. ... Chicago G Michael Carter-Williams (patellar tendinitis) did not play despite going through morning shootaround and practicing Wednesday. Carter-Williams missed his second game in a row. "We just want to get him another day of practice," coach Fred Hoiberg said.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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