Like hot chicken noodle soup, the Bulls received the ultimate get-well gesture Wednesday night from the Golden State Warriors at the United Center.
For one night, it relieved some congestion in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, not to mention some sniffles over the Bulls' recent inconsistency.
The Bulls' 113-83 blowout came at the expense of a Warriors team that played just nine healthy players and started Kelenna Azubuike. If you haven't heard of him, check Ft. Worth's NBDL statistics. That's where he spent most of his season.
"I don't have a whole lot to pull out of the hat," Warriors coach Don Nelson lamented. "We are what we are. Our bench isn't real strong. We're just trying to hang in there."
The same could be said for a Bulls team that has been maddeningly inconsistent.
At least the blowout afforded opportunities for multiple contributions, not to mention rest for the starters. Reserves Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha and Adrian Griffin either set or tied season highs in scoring as the bench piled up 61 points.
"We still think our best basketball is in front of us," forward P.J. Brown said.
Brown exited with 4 minutes 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter with a left knee contusion after knocking knees with an opponent. He was walking OK afterward but said it's too early to gauge his status for Friday's game against his former New Orleans team.
"It's painful behind the kneecap, but it's doing a little better," Brown said.
Brown's injury opened the door for Thomas, whom coach Scott Skiles said could start Friday. Thomas scored seven of his season-high-tying 14 points in a 20-6 run that opened the second half and broke open a close game.
That included a steal and fast-break dunk off a pretty, behind-the-back pass from Ben Gordon.
"I'm just ready to play whenever I'm called on," Thomas said. "My mentality has to stay the same, whether it's five minutes or 10 minutes. Try to keep the tempo up and play hard whenever."
Sefolosha's season-high 19 points featured two of the Bulls' 10 three-pointers in 21 attempts, most of them coming off wide-open looks as players had good ball movement and reversed the ball efficiently.
"This is a good confidence-builder, especially for our young guys," Griffin said. "We're going to need them down the stretch."
Griffin scored a season-high 17 points and showered so quickly afterward that he was interviewed in a United Center hallway rather than lingering in the locker room to soak up his glory.
"Hey, I'm not a star," Griffin said, laughing. "I'm a role player."
Gordon, who continues to battle a painful soft corn under his left little toe, scored 22 points in 30 minutes to lead the Bulls. Gordon added six assists.
Azubuike's 23 points led the Warriors, who fell to 6-23 on the road and 1-15 in the second of back-to-back games.
Of the Bulls' 22 remaining games, six are against teams with winning records. In other words, more get-well wishes are on the way for the Bulls to take advantage ofor not.
"So far, we haven't been as consistent as we'd like," guard Kirk Hinrich said. "We're in a stretch where we have to start positioning ourselves for the playoffs and start playing more like playoff basketball. It's important that we do that."
Bulls 113, Warriors 83
Souped-up offense pours it on
Thomas steps up, bench scores 61 in rout of short-handed Warriors
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