The Thunder got out to a nice start tonight, and lead by 7 points after the first quarter, 29-22. The Bulls, however, would chip away at that lead all night long, and eventually take over the ballgame in the second half. Kevin Durant was on fire early and Oklahoma City as a team was shooting over 60% in the first quarter. That should probably have been our first sign that trouble was on the horizon, shooting that well, and only taking a 7 point lead into the 2nd quarter. The Bull chipped away at that lead in the 2nd quarter, and walked off the court at haltime trailing by 5 points. It was at this point that the Thunder would not see last years #1 overall pick Derrick Rose miss another shot all night long.
Derrick Rose came flying out of the locker room in the second half knocking down five shots in the first five minutes of the half. He helped the Bulls quickly erase that five point deficit and turn it into a Chicago Lead. He shot the ball flawlessly over the entire rest of the game. When the clocked ticked down to zero, he went 10 for 10 shooting in the second half to score 20 of his 25 points. John Salmons and Ben Gordon got into the action for the Bulls as well tonight scoring a combined 38 points to help lead Chicago to an impressive road victory in an environment that is becoming increasingly hard for teams to come in and win, no matter their record. Just ask Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.
Kevin Durant of course lead the way scoring for the Thunder with 28 points. He was shooting lights out early in this one, but his shooting cooled off over the final three quarters. If he would have been able to maintain the way he was scoring in that first quarter, the Bulls would have gotten throttled tonight, he was that unstoppable early. Jeff Green added 18 points, and Russell Westbrook 15 and 6 assists. Nick Collison had a terrific night off the bench adding 12 points and 13 rebounds. 8 of his 13 rebounds were on the offensive end. If it hadn't been for Collison on the offensive glass tonight, that score might be a lot worse.
This was definitely a game I thought we'd be able to dominate the glass due to the size of the lineup the Bulls consistently trot out on to the floor. That was definitely not the case tonight as the Bulls not only beat us on the boards, but slaughtered us, grabbing 44 rebounds to our 31. So often this season the Thunder have quietly dominated the boards and that has kept them in a lot of games, but it would not play out that way tonight. Rose, Gordon, and Salmons combined for 18 rebounds tonight, and those are the 3 small positions on the court for the Bulls. You can't give up 18 rebounds to guards and the small forward of the opposing team and expect to win, especially when you only grab 13 more rebounds than those three guys combined all night.
Lack of rebounding, too much Derrick Rose, and inability to consistently score in the second half all contributed to the Thunder loss tonight. Oklahoma City will get a day off before trying to regroup at home against the Utah Jazz on Friday night. The Jazz snapped a 3 game losing streak on Tuesday, but don't let that fool you, they won their previously 12 games in a row before that. The Thunder definitely have their work cut out for them.
Side Note: DJ White was medically cleared to play basketball, and was assigned to D-League affiliate Tulsa to get himself re-acclimated to playing ball. He made his debut with the 66ers just an hour after the Thunder tipped off against the Bulls. He came off the bench for Tulsa and played a solid 32 minutes, scoring 15 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking 1 shot. He was definitely a little rusty shooting the ball just 6-14 and he turned the ball over 5 times. WTLC will be LIVE at the 66ers game Saturday night during the Thunder night off to do a live blog and get you some updated impressions/photos of DJ White in action.