Kevin Durant had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook added 23 as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Chicago Bulls, 102-72.
The Thunder led 24-16 after the first quarter, and held the Bulls to just 20% shooting in the frame. The Bulls shot a woeful 29 FG% on the night, the lowest in the NBA this season. Despite the poor performance the Bulls only went into the half down 13, due to a poor first half from Durant.
The second half was a different story, as the Thunder double their lead in the third quarter alone thanks to a 10 point quarter from Russell Westbrook. The Thunder shot 65% from the floor in the third, and with a comfortable lead, Brooks was able to put in the reserves in the fourth.
The Bulls were led by Nate Robinson and Luol Deng, who each had 13.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Tonight was not the prettiest ball game. Both sides shot the ball poorly in the first half. Chicago shot only 10-48 FG, for a dreadful 21% shooting. OKC led at the half 49-36, despite Durant only shooting 3-13. The second half wasn't much better for the Bulls. Chicago's 2 leading scorers still shot a pathetic 8-28, and the team ended the night going 4-18 from the 3 pt line.
I spent a lot of time debating about if this was just a dominating Thunder performance, or if the Bulls just didn't show up tonight. I have to lean towards the latter as in the first half the Bulls were actually able to get some good shots, but both team couldn't sink them. It wasn't until the Thunder actually starting making buckets in the third that the game became out of hand.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder controlled the defensive boards. While the Bulls were grab 16 offensive rebounds, 8 of those were in the 1st quarter and Chicago still only managed 16 points. Coach Brooks made the wise decision to keep Durant on the defensive glass instead of leaking out in transition, and Durant's 14 defensive boards were a big reason for OKC's dominance. The only chance the Bulls had at winning tonight was getting second chance points, but they were unable to get any offensive rebounds, which only amplified their problems from their poor shooting.
In addition to the lack of rebounds, the Bulls frontcourt went 5-25. Perkins, Ibaka and Collison were able to shut down a potential strong point for the Bulls, and forced them to rely on their frontcourt for offensive firepower, which didn't go too well either.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
The Bulls shot an NBA season low 29.06 FG%. To clarify, that was the lowest field goal percentage from any team this season. The next lowest was the Bobcats shooting 29.11% against the Thunder in that early season massacre. That should point out just how bad tonight's game was for the Bulls. A lot of this should be credited to the Thunder's defense, but the Bulls were missing wide open shot tonight's and were unable to take advantage of the Thunder turning the ball over 17 teams.
Another stat of note, the Thunder played the final five minutes the fourth quarter with a line-up of Orton, Jones, Lamb, Jackson and Liggins. All of whom have been assigned to our D-league in Tulsa at one point.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
Although much of tonight's performance had to do with the Bulls poor shooting, you still have to credit the Thunder for putting away Chicago early and never letting them back in the game. The Thunder had a habit of letting teams back into the game in the final quarter when it appeared to be over, but not tonight. Instead, the Thunder get a little bit of extra rest before hosting the Hornets on Wednesday.
The Thunder's newest acquisition, Ronnie Brewer, was introduced from the bench tonight, but was held out tonight, which is unfortunate because he could have gotten some good minutes tonight. Brooks expects Brewer to make his Thunder debut on Wednesday vs. Hornets.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant 19 points, 16 Rebounds, 6 Assits.
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, 17 rebounds, 10 rebounds
Thunder Blunder: Kevin Martin, 5 points, 1-5 FG.
Thunder Plunderer: none
Next game: vs. New Orleans Hornets, on Wed. Feb 27th @ 7:00 pm CDT
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