The Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (left) hits a three pointer against the Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky (right) for a buzzer beater at the United Center in Chicago on Sun Dec 27, 2020 (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors won their first game of the year when Damion Lee hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to win a thriller 129-128 over the Chicago Bulls. Under the tutelage of their new head coach Billy Donovan, the Bulls had lost their two games of the year. They wanted to put one in the win column for him Sunday night against the Warriors.
Draymond Green was not available again as he has a strained muscle in his leg. The Warriors hoped he will be back on the court when they finished the four-game road trip Tuesday night in Detroit.
The Warriors announced that Marquese Chriss suffered a broken fibula in practice Saturday. Chriss will undergo surgery to repair the damage, and he may be lost for the entire season. Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr had to revamp his lineup for the match against the Bulls.
So far this season, the Warriors have not performed well on offense. Steph Curry was missing three-point shots. Kelly Oubre, Jr. could not buy a bucket. Andrew Wiggins’ game was not up to par.
The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee torched the Warriors’ defense in the first two games of the season. Two questions had to be answered Sunday night. Could the Warriors’ offense rebound? Would the defense be shredded again?
The team answered both questions. Yes, the offense did better, and they shot better than 40% from the floor. Curry led the team with 36 points, and he made five three pointers to help the team win.
Andrew Wiggins played well on both ends of the court. Oubre hustled all night long. He was a force on defense. He scored eight points to go along with 11 rebounds and four steals. The Warrior bench made significant contributions to help win the game. Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, Damion Lee, Jordan Poole, and Mychal Mulder came through for the Warriors Sunday night.
The teams played a very competitive first 24 minutes of play. The Warriors finished by leading 60-56. The Warriors shot 40.4% from the floor and made nine threes. Chicago took 15 shots less than the Warriors. They were 50% from the floor, and they made six threes. The Warriors’ defense sparkled as they made eight steals and blocked two shots. They also forced Chicago to commit 14 turnovers.
The Bulls went on a 12-2 run to start the third quarter. They led 71-64, but Wiggins connected on a three to make it 71-67. The Bulls continued to maintain the lead the entire quarter. They won the third quarter 41-33 to lead 97-93 after three-quarters of play.
The Warriors did not start Curry to start the fourth quarter. Kerr brought him in with about eight minutes left in the game. Every time the Warriors inch closer, the Bulls would not have an answer.
The Warriors tied the game 100-100. The Bulls went on a 10-2 run. They led by nine 121-112 when Curry hit a two-point bucket. It just missed being a three. Oubre followed with a big bucket to close the gap to five 121-116. Curry made two free throws and a three-pointer to come within two 123-121. The Bulls connected on a three. Curry countered with a bucket and a free throw to stay within reach 126-124. Kevon Looney tied the game at 126.
The Bulls’ star, Zach LaVine, scored to put the Bulls up by two 128-126 with 16.9 seconds left to play. The Bulls’ defense focused on Curry to make sure he wouldn’t make the game’s last shot.
With five seconds left on the clock, the Warriors had to inbound the ball. Who would get the ball? Chicago, as mentioned above, double-teamed Curry. The inbound pass went to Damion Lee. Without any hesitation, Lee raced to the top of the key and drained the three-point shot to put the Warriors ahead 129-128. The team raced out to celebrate their first win of the season.
Game Notes and Stats: Curry broke Rick Barry’s consecutive free throw streak Sunday night. Curry didn’t miss a free throw as he made all nine attempts. His line was 36 points, two boards, six assists.
He was 11-for 25 from the floor, and he made five threes in 15 tries. Andrew Wiggins has 19 points, nine boards, and four assists. James Wiseman finished with seven points and three rebounds. Juan Toscano-Anderson, starting in place of Draymond Green, had five points and five rebounds. The Warrior bench players produced 52 points. Eric Paschall had 15, Damion Lee 12, Looney eight, Poole ten, and Mulder seven.
Zach LaVine paced the Bulls with 33. Lauri Markkanen 23, Wendell Carter Jr 22, Coby White 20. Otto Porter, Jr, coming off the bench, added 12.
The Warriors are 1-2 for the year. The Bulls are now 0-3.
The Warriors face the Pistons in Detroit Tuesday night. The game begins at 3 pm. The Pistons are 0-2 so far this year.