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Team meeting helps Bulls regroup in time to rout Warriors

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Few opponents know the Golden State Warriors better than the Chicago Bulls' Nate Robinson.

First, the veteran point guard spent much of his childhood in the Oakland suburb of Union City. Then he enjoyed a homecoming last season, when he served as Golden State's backup point guard and part-time starter.

And if he didn't already know enough, Robinson watched former teammate Stephen Curry's 54-point explosion at Madison Square Garden on television, knowing they'd be going head-to-head in the near-future.

"I was hoping he wouldn't have that kind of game tonight," Robinson said after playing a key role both offensively and defensively in the Chicago Bulls' 113-95 shellacking of Curry and the Warriors on Friday night. "Thank goodness he didn't."

Actually, thank mostly Robinson and backcourt mate Marco Belinelli, another ex-Warrior, a tandem that stuck to Curry and fellow marksman Klay Thompson all night, harassing them into 0 for 9 on nine attempts from 3-point range.

"We knew what kind of offensive team they have," Robinson, subbing once again for injured Derrick Rose, said after outscoring Curry 20-8 in a matchup of point guards that turned out to be as lopsided as the game itself. "We tried to make every shot hard for them."

Energized by a family contingent that included his children, his father and his 83-year-old grandmother, Robinson noted the Bulls' focus on the heels of an embarrassing 121-79 loss at Sacramento two nights earlier was to put as much energy as possible into the club's defensive effort.

"I know how hard it is when someone is up on you the whole game," Robinson said of his defensive tactic against Curry, one of the league's premier long-range shooters. "I learned from (former Celtics teammate) Avery Bradley. I wanted to be up on him (Curry) the whole night."

Robinson and his mates were especially brilliant defensively during a 26-6 flurry that bridged the middle two periods and broke open a close game.

And it didn't stop there. The Warriors nearly saw a 709-game streak of having made at least one 3-pointer snapped, finally connecting from beyond the arc when seldom used guard Kent Bazemore hit a 28-foot bomb with 5:54 remaining in the game.

"This team has a lot of pride," noted Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, explaining how a team could lose by 42 points one night and then win the next by 18.

"Everybody knew we stunk (in the Sacramento game). Everybody. Coaches, players ... everybody. We had to correct it."

Thibodeau said the club had a meeting in between games, one at which effort was stressed. Clearly, the message was received, resulting in the Bulls' first season-series sweep over the Warriors in 12 years.

"We aired things out," he said. "But the most important thing, we righted things on the floor."

The Bulls turned a competitive game into a blowout over a decisive 8:23 stretch of the second and third periods as they salvaged one win on a trip that had begun with losses to the Lakers and Kings.

Luol Deng (23), Carlos Boozer (21) and Robinson (20) all topped 20 points and Joakim Noah contributed a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Bulls (36-29), who kept pace with Atlanta and remained in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Warriors (37-30), meanwhile, put themselves in a position of falling out of the No. 6 playoff position in the West should they lose Sunday at Houston. The Rockets (36-30) have won all three head-to-head matchups with Golden State this season.

The Warriors can only hope to turn things around as quickly as the Bulls.

Up by 10 at the half after closing the second quarter on an 18-6 run, the Bulls kept the clamps on the Golden State offense immediately following the break, holding them without a point for 3:06 and without a field goal for 4:33.

In the meantime, Belinelli nailed a 3-pointer and Robinson converted a steal into a layup, fueling an eight-point run that put Golden State in a 64-46 hole and set the stage for a garbage-time finish.

"Got outworked," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "If we matched their intensity and if we matched their physicality, we felt like we could have won the ballgame. Right off the opening tip, we just didn't."

Jarrett Jack had 20 points off the bench and David Lee 15 for the Warriors. But neither Curry (0-for-5) nor Thompson (0-for-4) made a 3-pointer, Curry finishing with eight points on 2-for-13 shooting overall and Thompson going 3-for-9 on a seven-point night.

The loss ended the Warriors' seven-game homestand with a 4-3 record. The 12-day stretch included a 29-point win over New York and a loss to the Bulls that was even more one-sided -- Chicago led by 36 at one point -- before the Golden State backups dominated a meaningless fourth quarter.

"It's an embarrassment for us, our organization, from our coaching staff to our fans in the stands that support us nonstop," Jack said. "It's not fair to the coaches that supply us with great game plans. It's not fair to the front office that does a great job of taking care of us. It's not fair to the fans."

NOTES: The Bulls nearly became the first team in NBA history to lose a game by at least 40 points and then win the next by at least 30. ... The Bulls topped 100 points for the first time in nine games, 115 for just the third time this season. ... The Bulls have now won six in a row when entering a contest on a two-game losing streak, winning by an average of 11.7 points. ... Rose made the three-game Western swing with the Bulls and, as usual, went through a pregame workout on the court. The Bulls remained noncommittal on his return, but haven't ruled out the possibility of that occurring on next week's three-game homestand against Denver, Portland and Indiana. ... The Warriors didn't have a shot blocked for the second consecutive game, the first time they've enjoyed that distinction since the block became an official NBA statistic in 1973. ... Even after their just completed seven-game homestand, the Warriors still have more home games remaining (nine) than road games (six). In fact, after their three-game trip to Houston, New Orleans and San Antonio that begins Sunday, the Warriors will finish with nine of 12 at home.
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