Having scored 45 points in the second-quarter and 75 in the first-half overall, things were set up perfectly for the Chicago Bulls and their Ring of Honor celebration night. Yet after the extended interval to commemorate their legends, the modern-day team were left stunned by an absurd third period from the Golden State Warriors.
After conceding 73+ points in three consecutive first halves, the Warriors completely flipped the narrative with a wild 48-20 third-quarter that belied their recent poor form to that point.
The Golden State Warriors sparked to life in the third-quarter before holding off the Chicago Bulls comeback effort in a 140-131 victory
Klay Thompson's love-affair with United Center took a while to heat up on Friday, but the 33-year-old provided the impetus behind the spectacular third-quarter with 17 points after just seven in the first-half.
The ball was flying around beautifully for Golden State, with Jonathan Kuminga adding to Thompson's brilliance having started 8-of-8 from the floor for 21 points through the first three-quarters. On the other end, Chicago cooled off after a scorching first-half where they shot 69% from the floor.
After the Warriors had turned a 13-point deficit into a 16-point lead early in the fourth, anxiousness arose as the Bulls threatened a comeback by pulling to within four with three minutes to play. However, after a poor shooting game by his lofty standards, Stephen Curry stood up to ensure there would be no blown lead this time around.
The two-time MVP had 15 of his 27 points in the fourth-quarter, going toe-for-toe with Zach LaVine down the stretch as both teams put on an offensive masterclass. Thompson finished with 23 points in the second-half and 30 in the game -- only the second time this season that he's reached that mark. The Splash Brothers' playmaking was also on display, with Curry (9) and Thompson (6) combining for 15 assists while also adding 11 rebounds.
Steve Kerr's controversial decision to start under-fire forward Andrew Wiggins paid dividends, leading to much more aggressive and decisive play from the 2022 All-Star. Wiggins had nine points in the first-quarter, before finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting.
Wiggins' re-entry brought a demotion to the bench for Kuminga, with veteran Dario Saric also preferred in the starting group. The third-year forward responded well though, equalling his season-high with 24 points and five rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting in just over 24 minutes.
The much discussed Wiggins-Kuminga combination closed the game next to Curry, Thompson and Saric, not that Steve Kerr had too many alternatives with Draymond Green, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II and Moses Moody on the sidelines.
The Bulls shot a staggering 58.1% from the floor, having got 39 points, six rebounds and five assists from DeMar DeRozan, and a pair of 25-point outings from LaVine and Coby White. Yet more astonishing was the Warriors' season-low five turnovers, which combined with a 13-6 offensive rebounding advantage, allowed the visitors to take eight more field-goal attempts despite also taking 14 more free-throws.
The win provides some much-needed relief for the franchise after a pair of poor home losses, not to mention it should bestow some important confidence ahead of a meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks on the second night of a back-to-back.