The Oklahoma City Thunder got payback against the Chicago Bulls with a 109-100 victory in Chesapeake Arena Sunday afternoon. Despite the Thunder missing Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, 6 players scored in double digits. Russell Westbrook led the way once again with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists, while shooting 12/27 from the field. Enes Kanter finished with 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 2 steals on 7/16 FG, and Steven Adams finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 6/13 FG. With Ibaka out of the lineup, it was the first time we've seen Kanter and Adams start together, with Kanter moving to the PF position, and returns were good. Adams and Kanter respectively combined for 32 points and 29 rebounds.
The Bulls were led by Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol, who combined for 47 points.
The Thunder overall shot 46% from the field and 38% from the 3-point line, where as the Bulls shot 44% from the field and 31% from behind the arc. The key statistic for the Thunder was their ability to control the glass. They demolished the Bulls in rebounding as they grabbed 52 total rebounds in the game, including 17 on the offensive glass.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The beginning of the game was very unsatisfying, as after the end of the first quarter the Thunder were leading 17-15 and neither team could make open shots.
The Bulls and Thunder combined to take 15 3s in the first quarter. They made zero.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 15, 2015
However, after that bad quarter was out of the way, it was a tightly contested affair and both teams played well. Most importantly, the Thunder closed out the game well, something they did not do the last time these two teams played.
Russell Westbrook in particular played a strong 4th quarter, finishing with 14 points and 3 assists. Unlike the last game where with the game on the line he missed an open Serge Ibaka, this time around Westbrook found the open man. Driving the lane with 40 seconds left in the game, Westbrook drew the defense and kicked a pass out to a wide open Anthony Morrow, who buried the 3-pointer, which all but iced the game in pushing the Thunder to a 7 point lead.After the game, Westbrook credited Scott Brooks for the play and for he and his teammates to recognize how to do better in that situation:
Russell Westbrook on the dagger 3 he set up for Anthony Morrow: pic.twitter.com/pSTZSpLEhO— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 15, 2015
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
Despite the poor start, the Thunder recovered well for the rest of the game and held off the Bulls throughout. With the game on the line, the Thunder closed out strong. Westbrook's steal and layup triggered the ending:
In the end, the Thunder outscored the Bulls over the final 1:27 with a 13-5 run, sealing the win.