The two most surprising results of last night’s NBA action were the Portland Trail Blazers scorching through the Golden State Warriors in a 137-105 beatdown while the Chicago Bulls stopped their losing streak against the Toronto Raptors of all teams in a 116-106 win.
It takes something special to beat the Warriors this season, now with just five losses through the first 53 games in 2015-2016. That something special was a combination of Damian Lillard going off for a career high 51 points (18-of-28 from the field, 9-of-12 from beyond the arc) and the Warriors probably playing their worst quarter of basketball in the third, finishing the game with 20 turnovers, which used to be an issue before Steve Kerr became the head coach. Draymond Green alone had nine turnovers, in what they referred to as the wheels coming off the wagon in the third quarter.
Stephen Curry scored 31 points in 23 minutes. That’s incredible. But in a game like this, it’s brushed aside. A Warriors lose is celebrated and analyzed from a million different angles, because it’s so rare, but also for two other reasons: It gives a breath of fresh air to the NBA and those who want to believe they can win a championship this season, and how it impacts their chase after the Chicago Bulls 72-10 regular season record. I know it’s hard to explain, but a lot of people always feel that some records should stay where they are, especially when it’s a Michael Jordan who holds on to them.
The Warriors don’t have a lot of time to rest and see where things went off. They have the Los Angeles Clippers on the road next, which can always go two ways. A re focused Warriors team will bounce back, and it seems that focus more than anything led to the blowout loss against the Blazers, their worst in the last two seasons and the worst by a defending NBA champion since the Miami Heat in the 2006-2007 season lost a game by 42 points.
But the most surprising win in my opinion from a busy night of NBA basketball was the Bulls stopping their losing streak and winning against Toronto. Derrick Rose didn’t let a back-to-back slow him down, taking on the responsibilities he must with Jimmy Butler still out with a knee problem. Rose scored 26 points, making it 54 in the last 24 hours, although Doug McDermott, who has been having good and bad patches this season, made the most dramatic of differences, scoring a shocking 30 points on 13-of-17 from the field including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, his best game since graduating from Creighton.
And with the Bulls trying to find any kind of spark to keep this season from falling apart (only 8th in the East, 1.5 games over the Pistons), McDermott provides some rare optimism. The Bulls are hoping that he’s turned a corner with some newly found aggression and confidence to give them some solid scoring options off the bench and from the outside. Besides Pau Gasol who is becoming less and less efficient and Rose when he forces it, offense has been very difficult to come by for the Bulls, who can’t afford another long losing streak to blindside them.