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Game 45 Recap: Chicago 96, Oklahoma City 86

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You hate to see a game like this. All of the struggles and the fears of the past week became true, and the Thunder are on a legitimate losing streak. They seem to be on the down, while teams like the Bulls and Grizzlies are on the up. But, before I start wallowing around in self-pity, let's explain how this game went down.

As most of these losses do, the game started off pretty typically. The Bulls were getting some small runs to start the game off, dropping threes like they were nothing. Their lead reached its apex at 28 to 17, before the Thunder had a late first quarter run, barely getting the lead back. It was 30 to 28 at the end of the first.

The second quarter was almost a case of rinse, lather, repeat, as the Bulls reached the zenith of their lead at 12, with the score 50 to 38. But, the only difference is that when the Thunder looked to go on a quarter ending run, they were equaled by Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose beasting it up. As a result, the Thunder headed into halftime with a 9 point deficit.

Below: More Recapping, Analysis, Awards

But still, I was not worried. I'd seen the Thunder get out of worse holes, and the second half was all that mattered, right? Well, right and wrong. The Thunder buckled down in the third quarter, using their trademark defense to gain the lead late in the 3rd. It's also partially the fault of the Bulls for having weaker players on the floor.

But, by the fourth quarter, hope of a Thunder victory seemed to clip away fast. This time around, instead of the Thunder putting the foot down on the Bulls, it was the Bulls putting their foot down on the Thunder. There's not much explanation I can give, it just boils down the the Bulls having a great offensive team, while the Thunder were busy missing shots. About halfway through, the Bulls had built up a 10 point lead, and things started to look hopeless. Under normal circumstances, the Thunder could have found a way to climb back into the game, but the truth is, they didn't have a single field goal until there was 3:59 to go in the fourth.

The most obvious thing the Thunder couldn't prevent during this game was the prevalence of threes coming from the Bulls. It almost seemed like every play the Bulls would have two guys situated on both ends of the perimeter, and through rotating the ball through almost every players hands, through a drive and kick, a pick, or otherwise, the Bulls always found somebody open in the corner. A downside to this type of offense is that the Bulls were subject to various lulls throughout the game, but the lulls were short and at unimportant times. Later in the game, they gave the Thunder a taste of their own medicine with shorter and more certain mid-range jumpers. As a result, the Thunder lost the lead in the early fourth, and never got close to getting it back.

On the Thunder side of things, the offense was pretty dismal. There were too many occasions where they just couldn't hit the mark, especially beyond the 3 point line. A marksman, even off of the bench, would go a long way for this team.

But, there were good stories to this game. For example, Jeff Green is finally back to being the Thunder Wonder again! He had 24 Points, 9 Rebounds, 2 Assists, and only one turnover. Sure, he did miss a lot of shots, but pretty much every other player on the team did so as well, so he deserves this award. Kevin Durant also had a good game, with 28 Points, 11 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 2 Steals, and 3 Blocks, but his 4 Turnovers, along with the fact that Jeff Green finally had a good game, keep him as the Thunder Down Under.

For the Thunder Blunder award, there's no really obvious candidate, but I'm going to give it to James Harden. He only went 3 of 10 from the field (with no points off of freethrows), in a game where we really needed his shooting presence. The Thunder Plunderer goes to Joakim Noah, not only for his offensive performance of 14 Points, 11 Rebounds, and 2 Assists, but also for his defensive performance of 4 Steals, 2 Blocks, and holding the opposing Centers to 28.5% from the field, with no freethrows.

Next Game: Versus the Nuggets, Friday, January 29th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.