The Oklahoma City Thunder went up against a depleted Chicago Bulls on Thursday night and they were able to come out on top, 107-95. Despite the Bulls not having a couple of rotation players inactive today, they kept itcompetitive in the first half against the Thunder, despite 15 first-half points by Reggie Jackson.
The second half however was all Thunder. The Thunder led by as much as 19 in the second half. Every time the Bulls would try and make a run, the Thunder would get a turnover or hit a three-pointer to bring the lead back up. The Bulls just have too many injuries to key players to play 48 minutes against a team like OKC. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich joined Derrick Rose on the inactive list for this game.
The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant, who finished with 32 points on 13-for-20 shooting, while also adding 6 assists and 9 rebounds. Reggie Jackson also came off the bench and contributed with 18 points and the first half was the Reggie Jackson show for the most part. Oh, and yeah, Russell Westbrook had a double-double.
The Bulls were led by Joakim Noah's 23 points and 12 rebounds on 8-for-17 shooting. Noah had the most productive game for Chicago and played a big role in getting Serge Ibaka into quick foul trouble and dragged that on throughout most of the game. DJ Augustin chipped in with 15 points and 5 assists.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
My initial reaction is just simply that the Thunder are fantastic. Or the Bulls just can't compete with a team like the Thunder with all those injuries. Either way, the Thunder had their way against a traditionally good defensive team no matter who was on the floor for Chicago. The Thunder scored 107 points, but the way they did it was just impressive. They shot 51% from the floor and 60% (!!) from three. The bench picked up exactly where the starters left off, and let's all remember that all these points came while Serge Ibaka was battling foul trouble and was never really able to get it going.
Kevin Durant had another stellar game, which was aided early on when Jimmy Butler left with an apparent leg injury in the first quarter. Durant went 4-5 from downtown and his lone miss came once the game was already in control. Westbrook continued his stellar play with a 20-10 game. He gave the fans a scare, however, when he appeared to tweak his ankle after landing on Kendrick Perkins' foot, but he played the second half and looked at full speed.
As far as the Bulls go, they just don't have the talent right now. Missing Deng and Hinrich, and of course, Derrick Rose is really catching up to them. Noah had a really solid game, but he looks gassed half the time with the minutes he's logging. They still have a chance in that eastern conference, though.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
Offense. The Thunder played lackadaisical defense at times against a team that doesn't really score the ball much, but they were able to make up for it by scoring the ball exceptionally well. I've always said that as long as the Thunder find a consistent three-point balance from the role players, they'll be almost impossible to beat. We know Durant and Westbrook are going to get their shots, but when the rest of the team goes 5-for-10 combined from downtown, good things are going to happen. Thabo Sefolosha had three of those misses and he's still trying to find his jump shot on a consistent basis, but I am confident that will come.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
I could put the way the Thunder shot the ball here, but I'm going to focus on how poorly Chicago shot the ball. The Bulls shot 38% from three and only connected on 8 three's while launching up 29 attempts. It wasn't quite a JR Smith type performance for them, but there's no way a team will beat the Thunder on their home court shooting this poorly. The fact that OKC couldn't miss at some points, didn't help the Bulls' cost.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
Well, I'm sure every player on the roster would tell you that getting a win against a Tom Thibodeau coached team is always a good thing. Moving forward, I don't know how much impact this particular win has for the Thunder, but they have now won eight straight games and they look to be playing their best basketball of the season. BUT there's still things to improve on, which is just scary.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 32 points, 13-20 FG, 4-5 3PT FG, 9 rebounds, 6 assists
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, 9 points, 4-6 FG, 3 rebounds
Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka, 5 points, 2-4 FG, 3 rebounds, 5 fouls
Thunder Plunderer: Joakim Noah, 23 points, 8-17 FG, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Next game: @ San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7:30PM CDT