Pro basketball

Bulls happy the Butler ready to serve

2014-02-26T21:00:00Z 2014-02-28T13:38:05Z Bulls happy the Butler ready to serveAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
February 26, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | NBA pregame with both coaches is often enlightening and more entertaining than the game itself.

Take Wednesday night's anticipated matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Bulls, who treated their guests like a welcome mat and stomped on them 103-83.

Taj Gibson's 21 points led Chicago (31-26), which held Golden State (35-23) to 36 percent shooting.

"We're a multiheaded monster," Gibson said.

Jimmy Butler added 16 points; Carlos Boozer chipped in 15 to go with 13 rebounds; Joakim Noah grabbed 17 boards, and Mike Dunleavy had 15 points.

No Golden State starter scored in double figures.

"We're getting good balance," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. "We know we have to be strong on both sides of the ball. No lead is safe against them because of the way they shoot the 3."

The Warriors missed 16 of their 21 attempts from beyond the arc.

Thibodeau and Golden State skipper Mark Jackson had offered up several interesting nuggets prior to the opening tip.

Thibodeau was elated Butler would be starting at guard after missing two games with a rib injury. He was averaging 12.4 points and five rebounds.

"He had found a nice offensive rhythm. Obviously, the added depth part is huge for us and then his ability to play multiple positions," said Thibodeau, who didn't rule out the Bulls possibly signing a veteran for the playoff run if management thinks it can benefit the team.

They haven't needed much help against Golden State at the United Center, where the visitors have dropped 21 of 25, including five straight by an average of 18.5 points.

Chicago's defense has been rock steady since Jan. 1, holding teams under 90 points while winning 13 of 14 games.

No other team in the league has kept as many opponents under 90 in that span.

Over by Golden State's locker room, Jackson was shrugging off a reporter's pregame question about the Warriors' struggles in recent years and how tiring it must be trying to change a losing culture.

"It doesn't get tiring, because the mission has been accomplished," Jackson said. "That's old news. I'm on to the next thing. The culture has changed. We're a winning basketball team. We're a playoff basketball team.

"We had a starter (Stephen Curry) in the All-Star Game. We had an all-star (David Lee) last year. We've got nationally-televised games. People are talking about the Warriors."

Golden State came to frigid Chicago with a four-game winning streak and averaging 103.3 ppg.

Jackson called Curry "one of the top five shooting guards in the world" and said veteran Andre Iguodala "was born to defend."

The big knock against the Warriors is that they set beautiful screens down low but shoot too many jumpers, which Jackson pooh-poohed.

"I really don't pay attention to it, and the reason why is because that's who we are," he said. "You get into trouble when you try to be something that you're not.

"I want Steph Curry to shoot jump shots. I want Clay Thompson to shoot jump shots. We have exceptional all-time great shooters. We are a dangerous basketball team. Our shooting ability plays a huge factor."

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