3 Thunder Takeaways: OKC Makes Things Interesting (And A Little History) In Win Over Chicago
There is something about the Chicago Bulls that bring the best and worst out of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For Oklahoma City, the makeup of Chicago’s roster is like looking into a mirror. The Bulls have young, exciting players who are carving out their NBA identities in real time.
The key difference between the teams, as Dec. 16's matchup and Tuesday night suggest, is apparent: Experience. I'll get to that in a bit.
Here are tonight’s Takeaways from a 124-122 Thunder victory:
1. Terrance Ferguson Matters So Very, Very Much
Today’s NBA loves the 3-pointer and the 3-ball loved the Thunder right back on Tuesday night.
OKC nailed 11 of 17 3-point attempts in the first half. Ferguson was responsible for three 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Ferguson is not known as an efficient outside shooter (30.7 percent entering Tuesday), but he shoots a ton of them. 77.8 percent of his total field goal attempts have been 3-pointers, which is the fourth-highest such percentage in the NBA.
When you factor in a back injury that sidelined him for the remainder of Sunday’s win against San Antonio, Ferguson’s strong showing was a tad unexpected but certainly welcomed and needed on the road.
2. Veterans Day In February
Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points within the game’s first eight minutes. After OKC’s 17-point halftime lead evaporated in the third, Chris Paul and Steven Adams stepped up on the offensive and defensive ends in the final period.
Paul hit a difficult runner through contact to extend OKC’s lead to three with 1:03 to play in regulation. On the next Bulls possession, Adams blocked a Daniel Gafford layup.
The Bulls’ last gasp came with 2.9 seconds left when Zach LaVine, who played a flawless third quarter, did not get a clean look for a game-winning 3-pointer thanks to Paul’s hounding defense.
Experience was how the Thunder pulled off a franchise-record 26-point comeback victory against the Bulls on Dec. 16 and how the Thunder kept its composure when it lost a 24-point on Tuesday.
The Bulls: So close, and yet so far away.
3. A New Frontier
OKC’s win over Chicago clinched a nine-game winning streak on the road, which is a new franchise-best. The Thunder are also 14 games over .500 for the first time this season.
Still, Tuesday was the quintessential 2019-2020 Thunder game. They looked like a Western Conference contender and a precocious team all in the same 48 minutes of basketball.
It’s hard to figure them out, but that’s what makes them so fun to watch.