The Oklahoma City Thunder came into tonight's game looking to make a statement on both ends of the floor against the Chicago Bulls. The Thunder did...for at least one half, using a dominating first half to defeat the Bulls in front of their home crowd 92-79 for their third straight win and to get back to .500.
In the first quarter, the Thunder came out looking to put a stamp on this game early with their defense. The defense was stifling, the rotations were crisp, hands were active, the Thunder defense was simply firing on all cylinders. The Thunder forced 8 turnovers and 3 shot-clock violations in the quarter. Also, the Thunder only gave up two made field goals and 7 total points. The Thunder led 27-7 after the opening frame.
Russell Westbrook made a defensive statement in the first quarter with 4 steals and looked to facilitate dishing 4 assists. However, in the second quarter, the league's reigning MVP looked to make a statement on the offensive end. Westbrook was in full attack mode and the Bulls had no answer. He scored 17 points in the quarter, shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. The Thunder led 58-34 at the half, well on their way to coasting to victory.
Unfortunately, they took to the coasting quite literally.
The Thunder started to slow down offensively in the 2nd half. Defensively, the Thunder continued to cause fits for the Bulls, but any sense of offensive purpose disappeared. In the 2nd half, OKC was outscored 45-34 and they themselves managed to make only 7 shots overall out of 34, while shooting 4-20 from three-point range. That’s right, OKC managed to make only 3 non-three-point shots the entire second half.
Never the less, the Bulls are still awful. The Thunder forced the Bulls to 34% shooting from the field and forced 17 turnovers. They dominated the Bulls on the boards 48-38 and won the points in the paint battle 32-26. The Thunder got to the line 37 times and connected on 32. The Thunder also assisted on 15 of 26 made field goals, including 4 on their whopping 7 made 2nd half shots, a 57% rate; what’s the analytics on that, guys?
Westbrook fueled the Thunder attack scoring 21 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony pitched in 18 points and 11 rebounds. Paul George scored 13 points.
Jerami Grant continues to impress as he notched a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Dakari Johnson got the start again in the abscence of Steven Adams and continued to be a presence defensively.
Johnson held Bulls big man Robin Lopez to 6 points and kept him off the boards only allowing Lopez to two boards. Lopez came into the game averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.
The Bulls were led by rookie Lauri Markkanen and G-League standout Antonio Blakeney, who both scored 16 points apiece.
The Thunder return to action on the road on Friday night in a Western Conference showdown against the San Antonio Spurs.