Having missed an opportunity to further their momentum last time out, the Chicago Bulls could find it extremely difficult to get back into the win column in the opener of a six-game road trip.
The Bulls have the daunting challenge of trying to end the Golden State Warriors’ 19-game home win streak and become the first Eastern Conference team to defeat them this season Tuesday night.
Chicago (29-17) had won back-to-back games after dropping six of eight, beginning with a 104-81 rout of San Antonio on Thursday. The Bulls couldn’t keep that streak going Sunday, when they shot just 35.6 percent in a 96-84 loss to Miami and had 12 of their 87 attempts blocked by the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside.
“I don’t know if there’s a straight explanation for it,” forward Pau Gasol said. “We’re trying to get ourselves going, get in some kind of rhythm but we haven’t been able to do it yet.”
Mike Dunleavy’s 13-game absence due to an ailing right ankle hasn’t helped, and Joakim Noah sat out four consecutive contests with his own ankle problems before playing the last two. Dunleavy and Noah are both questionable for Tuesday.
Chicago could use all the help it can get against the league-leading Warriors (36-6), who are currently on pace for 70 wins. The 1995-96 Bulls (72-10) are the only team to reach that mark.
Golden State has collected the majority of its victories at home, where it’s 21-1 and has set a franchise mark with its current win streak. The Warriors are also the first team to open 14-0 against the Eastern Conference in a season since the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won their first 19.
They’ve taken five in a row overall, with the latest a 114-111 victory against visiting Boston on Sunday. Klay Thompson followed up his career-best 52-point effort from Friday — when he set NBA records with nine 3-pointers and 37 points in a quarter — with a team-leading 31.
The Warriors nearly squandered a 13-point lead in the final 2:24, but Thompson helped keep the Celtics at bay by scoring his team’s final seven points. It was just the fourth game during Golden State’s run at home decided by single digits and the first since a 114-109 victory over Oklahoma City on Dec. 18.
“Now we’ve got some things to address in practice,” center Andrew Bogut said. “The end-of-game execution wasn’t great. We made some bonehead plays the last three or four minutes and let them back into the game.”
Golden State is seeking to become the first team to win 20 consecutive home games in a single season since Denver took 23 in a row Jan. 20-April 17, 2013. Memphis had a 22-game streak that began in February and ended Dec. 5.
Thompson had 24 points in Golden State’s only other matchup with the Bulls this season, a 112-102 win in Chicago on Dec. 6, and Draymond Green led the way with a career-high 31.
The Warriors have won four of their last five and 12 of the last 15 at home over Chicago, including a 102-87 victory in the most recent visit Feb. 6.