Warriors claim first victory
Frustrated at the end of the third quarter, Steph Curry clapped his hands and let out a shout. The Warriors were embroiled in a close game and had a chance to win their first game of the season, but they needed more, and he knew it.
Curry went on to score 13 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Warriors to a 129-128 win over the Bulls Sunday in Chicago, but it was his step brother, Damion Lee, who would deliver the shot to earn the Warriors (1-2) the much-needed win.
With 36 points on 11-of-25 shooting (5-of-15 from 3-point range), Curry snapped out of his season-opening scoring slump and passed a pair of historical benchmarks.
His first 3-pointer of the game put him in elite company, as he joined Ray Allen and Reggie Miller as the only players to make 2,500 3-pointers for their career. His 61st-consecutive free-throw in the third quarter broke Rick Barry’s all-time Warriors record. But those were awards of life-time achievement, and were not the goal of Curry and the Warriors on Sunday.
Golden State entered Sunday night’s game without forward Draymond Green (foot) for the third straight-game and trying to find a groove on offense.
In the second quarter, they posted their best scoring quarter of the season with 36 points. Andrew Wiggins, in particular, found his rhythm, scoring 10 points in the second quarter and finishing with 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists. As a team, the Warriors made 18-of-47 (38.3 percent) 3-pointers and forced 24 turnovers that led 18 points.
However, after taking a four-point lead into halftime, the Warriors gave up the lead when they were out-scored 41-33 in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr.’s floater opened up a nine-point lead with the 3:58 left in the game. With 22 points, Carter Jr. joined forward Lauri Markkanen (23 points) and guards Zach LaVine (33 points) and Coby White (20 points) as Bulls players with more than 20 points.
When he re-entered the game in the fourth, Curry attempted to lift the Warriors to a much-needed win. He made a pair of 3-pointers, dazzled with his dribble and drove to get to the free-throw line as the Warriors out-scored the Bulls 11-5 in the final 2:01.
With 16.9 seconds remaining, center Kevon Looney’s tip-in tied the game at 126, but LaVine’s mid-range jumper put the Bulls ahead with 5 seconds to go, setting up a chance for Curry to win the game.
Head coach Steve Kerr drew up a play for Curry, but the Bulls keyed in and didn’t allow him to receive the inbound. Instead, Lee inbounded to Looney, darted over to take the handoff and drained a straight-away 3-pointer to earn the Warriors a much-needed win. Lee finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (4-of-5 from 3-point range).
As the buzzer sounded, Lee’s teammates rushed the court and hugged the 28-year-old guard who has grown to represent the young, new-look supporting cast that surrounds Curry. Had Golden State lost, frustrations may have boiled over. Instead, the win called for a celebration as the Warriors aim to return to the playoffs this season.
The Warriors will wrap up their four-game trip Tuesday in Detroit.