What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Adrenaline. This game was a beatdown in it's purest form. The Thunder never trailed, and the lead wasn't even remotely threatened beyond the first quarter. Continuing the theme of my preview, watching tonight's game was like re-visiting one of those fantasy games against the Bulls in NBA Live 98 as a kid. I'd spam my star players and completely dominate the game. And, basically, that's what happened tonight, except with less polygons and longer than three minute quarters.
The Bulls were just atrocious offensively. C.J. Watson didn't initiate any ball movement on offense, and John Lucas just dribbled the ball in circles and threw up bricks. Carlos Boozer almost never got the ball. Noah was consistently kept away from the basket by Perk's excellent back-to-the-basket D. Korver and Deng were barely mediocre, as they were smothered the entire time with no one to create for them.
On the Thunder's side, it was a baller's paradise. Russell Westbrook was dominant, scoring from every single spot on the floor. Kevin Durant was able to get whatever he wanted off of a pick and roll. And yeah, that's about it. It was the Durant and Westbrook show. But man, what a show it was!
If you read nothing else in this recap, read this: Brian Scalabrine got the most minutes he's gotten since the KG injury on the 2009 Boston Celtics. Yeah, it was that bad. (Thanks Lygafe!)
What was tonight's turning point?
The Thunder entered the second half up by 10, and went on a 15-2 run to start the quarter. It was pretty much finished from that point on. The entire third quarter was like one constant Thunder highlight reel, with Ibaka starting things off down low, KD and RW hitting a few jumpers, KD and RW hitting a few threes....and then....THE DUNK. THE WEST-TURKISH THROWDOWN.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder won?
If I had to chalk it up to one thing, it'd have to be....everything. Sorry, there's no one reason I can pin on this win.
I will say though that the Bulls were good at forcing our non-star players into bad shots. During the first, Kendrick Perkins tried to do a Dirk-like turnaround jumper, Nick Collison tried a 9 foot hook from the wing, and Thabo Sefolosha missed at the rim in heavy traffic twice. Seriously, guys?
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
The stats are obscured by the meaningless fourth quarter, but look at Chicago's shooting tonight. 33%. I know the Bulls are supposed to rely on their defense, but there's just no reason for that at all. There was no ball distribution tonight, and the few plays that did work for them were fast breaks or the occasional drive. The paint was totally closed to post players, and no one else could seem to get an open shot.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
It gives them a huge confidence win heading into tomorrow, where they'll take on the Memphis Grizzlies at home. The matchup promises to be exciting, because the Grizzlies are finally healthy, and will have Randolph in the lineup. It also continues to keep the Thunder three games ahead of the surging Spurs, who have won 7 in a row. Lastly, the Thunder now have a nearly division-clinching 13.5 game lead on the 9th seeded Utah Jazz.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook for the awesome dunks.
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, for the smooth threes.
Thunder Blunder: Thabo Sefolosha, who had a couple of bad offensive plays in the first.
Thunder Plunderer: Jimmy Butler, for the +15 +/- ratio.
Next Game: Versus the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, April 2nd, 17 PM Central Daylight Time