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After taking a 24-18 first-quarter lead over the Bulls on Wednesday night, the Warriors spent the next three quarters as the team they thought they had outgrown.
They committed turnovers at an astonishing rate. They allowed their opponent to dictate the pace. They played uninspired defense and ineffective offense. They got outworked on the glass and outhustled on the floor.
As for the coaches, Tom Thibodeau managed to get a whole lot more from his Bulls than Mark Jackson got from his Warriors.
The result was a 103-83 loss that extinguished the Warriors fledgling four-game win streak and reopened the issue of whether the Warriors, at this stage of their development, are mentally tough enough to deliver consistent effort.
Once the opening 12 minutes passed, they most certainly were not.
"First of all, Chicago did a great job of taking us out of the things we like to do," said forward/center Jermaine O'Neal, making his fifth consecutive start. "Second, they are very well coached; they don’t miss a beat even though they are missing their best player. They took us out of a lot of our sets and we had a lot of turnovers. And we took quick shots. Against a team that is well coached and controls the tempo, that will put you in a bad way"
The Warriors' starters -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and O'Neal -- were particularly ineffective over the final three quarters. They combined for 15 points in the first quarter, 20 over the next three. Their leading scorer was Jordan Crawford, who finished with 16 points, mostly in garbage time.
It was the first time since Feb. 12, 1999 that no Warriors starter reached double figures in scoring. That lineup featured Muggsy Bogues, John Starks, Erick Dampier, Jason Caffey and Chris Mills. That team finished 21-29 under P.J. Carlesimo.
The Warriors (35-23) were undone by a second quarter in which they committed seven turnovers, allowing the Bulls to go on a 22-5 run and take a 40-29 lead with 6:31 left in the half. The Warriors got no closer than six the rest of the way and trailed by double digits -- as much as 28 points -- for most of the second half.
"They scored 34, 35 points," Jackson said of Chicago's 35-point second quarter. "That's a team that doesn’t push the pace. We turned the basketball over and they created some separation. It’s a tough loss for us, it happens. Give them credit.
"They’re a good team, they’re a physical basketball team and they made plays and we didn’t."
Chicago, which shot 25 percent in the first quarter, shot 51 percent over the final three. The Bulls (31-26) pounded the glass, taking a 56-41 advantage that included 10 offensive rebounds in the first half alone.
The Warriors, meanwhile, shot 45.5 percent in the opening quarter, 31.2 percent afterward. They committed 16 turnovers, off which the Bulls scored 19 points.
It was a confounding meltdown insofar as the Warriors did not play Tuesday night, while the Bulls were winning in Atlanta and didn't arrive in Chicago until the wee hours Wednesday morning.
"Unfortunately, you have those nights in the NBA," forward David Lee said. "The important thing is to keep our heads up and get ready for the next game."
Lee, still recovering from stomach flu, came off the bench for the first time as a Warrior and finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
"We need to make sure one doesn’t turn into two," Jackson said. "We need to make sure we bounce back from this one."
THE GOOD: After missing two games, Lee played -- and mustered about as much production as any of his teammates.
THE BAD: The game itself, with particular emphasis on the final 36 minutes.
When the Bulls turned their ferocious defense on Curry, no one else answered call.
THE TAKE: This was as big a stinker as the Warriors have had, downright stunning in its scope, particularly considering the dedication they'd exhibited in the previous four games coming out of the All-Star break. Indeed, this was the kind of disaster that irritates good teams to such degree that they always play the next game with a healthy anger and an urgent purpose.