Nikola Vucevic produced a 43-point masterpiece as the Chicago Bulls overpowered the slumping NBA champion Golden State Warriors 132-118 on Sunday.
Montenegrin star Vucevic bagged his ninth straight double-double after stepping up in the absence of injured DeMar DeRozan to help the Bulls snap a three-game losing streak at Chicago’s United Center.
Vucevic’s performance was the centerpiece of a balanced all-round offensive display by Chicago, who saw six players finish with double-digit points tallies.
Zach LaVine added 27 points while Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu had 12 points apiece. Coby White added 15 from the bench.
“I got going really early,” said Vucevic after going 18-for-31 from the field with five three-pointers. “It’s hard to explain. You just get this feeling within yourself that it’s kinda gonna be your night and you just play.
“We really moved the ball. We really played aggressively offensively and I was able to get into my spots.”
The victory was the perfect tonic for the Bulls (20-24) as they now head to Paris next week for a regular season fixture against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
But the loss was another alarm bell for the struggling Warriors, the reigning NBA champions who are in eighth place in the Western Conference standings with a 21-22 record.
Klay Thompson led the Golden State scoring with 26 points but the Warriors were left counting the cost of 23 turnovers.
“We’re having trouble stacking good decision upon good decision,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“That’s what this game is about — at both ends. You’re not always going to make shots but can you execute offensively without turning the ball over?
“Can you execute defensively over and over again?…We’re just not solid enough right now to be able to do that.”
Kerr meanwhile refused to make excuses for the defeat.
“You can make all kinds of excuses but it doesn’t matter,” Kerr said. “Everybody’s got excuses, everyone’s got injuries with guys in and out of the rotation. We just got to do better.”
In other games on Sunday, Julius Randle scored a season-high 42 points as the New York Knicks bagged their third straight victory with a 117-104 defeat of Detroit.
Randle also hauled in 15 rebounds while team-mate Jalen Brunson finished with 27 points in a comfortable victory for the Knicks, who are sixth in the Eastern Conference table.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was left purring at Randle’s performance both in defense and offense.
“The rebounding is just huge. He got every big rebound down the stretch,” Thibodeau said. “He’s all over the place.
“He’s on the perimeter guarding guards and everything else. I thought he was terrific.”
In Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard and Terance Mann combined for 61 points in the Clippers’ 121-100 win over the Houston Rockets. Mann posted 31 points while Leonard added 30 as the league-worst Rockets slumped to a 10th straight loss.