The stage was set for a special Christmas at Chesapeake Arena. Oklahoma City (20-10) came in healthy with the fourth best record in the NBA, ready to put on a show for the country.
But that didn’t happen. The Thunder played like there was egg nog in their Gatorade bottles, lethargically losing to the Bulls
Chicago (16-11) led from the opening tip and played with a high level of energy. Neither team shot particularly well, but the Bulls’ defense held OKC to just 38.5 percent from the floor and 6 of 24 (25 percent) from downtown.
OKC just wasn’t ready to play. The Thunder fell behind 11-0 in the first quarter before battling back within two at the break. It felt like the Thunder had woken up, but then Chicago stormed out to an 8-0 run in the third quarter and got the lead right back to double digits.
Kevin Durant was in a zone early on but cooled off as things went on. KD scored 19 points in the first half but just 10 in the second as the Bulls pulled away. Russell Westbrook gave a good performance as well with 26 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals. Enes Kanter, despite a severe lack of touches, added 14 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Serge Ibaka scored just six points on 3 of 12 from the floor.
The Bulls, on the other hand, were very balanced. Pau Gasol led Chicago with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Jimmy Butler scored 23 points while spending most of the game defending Durant. Derrick Rose added 19 points and Taj Gibson chipped in 13 and 10 boards.
This was the Thunder’s first home loss since Nov. 20 against the Knicks, just 13 games into the season. Big Blue is just 6-8 against the Eastern Conference this season. OKC is back at the Peake on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets.