Thunder Get Bullied In Chicago
CHICAGO - Oklahoma City lost its third game in four nights on Thursday as they fell to the Bulls in the United Center 104-98.
Kevin Durant totaled 33 points while Russell Westbrook added 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, but they were out dueled by Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler’s 55 combined points.
The Thunder looked great early in the game with a very fluid offense. It was evident that Durant wanted to have a more well-rounded performance in this game after struggling in the assist department early in the season. Durant was getting everyone involved while the Bulls mostly had no answer on offense. Rose starting the game 1-for-8 from the field and Chicago had to lean on Butler to carry the load early in the game.
OKC led by three after one quarter, but the Bulls were able to take hold of the momentum in the second quarter and outscored the Thunder by 10 points in the frame.
Things continued to go the Bulls way, and Chicago built its lead up to 10 points with 8:51 remaining in the game before the Thunder really started to buckle down.
OKC started to get more ball movement on the offensive end, while forcing the Bulls into bad shots on defense. Billy Donovan opted to play Kanter throughout the fourth quarter because Steven Adams was dealing with back soreness, and that lineup change appeared to be mostly beneficial for the Thunder. Kanter was a beast in the post, and was able to get second chance opportunities for the Thunder by fighting for offensive rebounds.
The Thunder weren’t settling for bad shots for that stretch in the fourth quarter and was able to tie the game by the 5:07 mark.
It was a back and forth game from that point forward, but what hurt the Thunder were the mismatches on defense. Under Donovan’s new defensive system, Thunder players switch on every screen. That would leave Kanter on Rose and Westbrook on Gasol on occasion, which worked out in the Bulls’ favor.
Rose by far had his best game of the season, and hit multiple clutch shots down the stretch to put the game away. Rose finished with 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds while Butler totaled 26 points.
Ibaka hit 8-of-14 shots for 17 points while Kanter added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Oklahoma City only had nine turnovers in the game, which is more than 11 less than they’d averaged through the first five games.
OKC will be back in action on Sunday when they host Phoenix at 6 p.m.