The Chicago Bulls witnessed that dynamic again Thursday when they
faced the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder. Behind a 32-point effort
from forward Kevin Durant, the Thunder earned a 107-95 victory at
the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We are right there," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team was
missing guards Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich and forward Luol Deng.
"The challenge for us is not to accept what's going on but to keep
The win enabled the Thunder to tie the 1976-77 Seattle SuperSonics
for the franchise record of 13 consecutive home wins to start the
season. At 21-4, they also have the best record in the NBA.
Playing short-handed, the Bulls (9-16) did their best to break the
Thunder's streak. Each time it looked as if Oklahoma City would pull
away, Chicago slowly climbed back into striking distance.
The Bulls whittled a 15-point deficit down to eight with 9:30 left
in the fourth quarter.
However, the Bulls had no answer for Durant down the stretch. Time
after time, the Bulls left the NBA's leading scorer open on the
perimeter, and he made them pay with his 13th 30-point game of the
"You have heard it all," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Durant.
"What he does is play a good, solid basketball game. He plays the
right way. He makes shots all over the floor. He doesn't have to
have a certain part of the floor or a certain play. He's one of the
best players in the world."
Durant also racked up nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Guard Russell Westbrook added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Guard
Reggie Jackson came the bench to score 18 points on 8-for-12
Center Joakim Noah paced the Bulls with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Forward Taj Gibson scored 16 points, and guard D.J. Augustin
collected 15 points and five assists. Chicago had six players score
in double figures, but it wasn't enough.
"We've been scoring the ball real well," Gibson said. "It's just
that our defense hasn't been there to help us out."
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With three of his fellow starters out, Noah took it upon
himself to ignite the Bulls' offense. He scored 11 of the team's
first 13 points to give Chicago a quick lead.
The Thunder outscored the Bulls 23-9 the rest of the period
despite Durant picking up his second technical foul of the
season and going to the bench early. Oklahoma City led 35-24
heading into the second quarter.
"When you look at their team, the depth, the way they play, they
are so sound on both sides of the ball," Thibodeau said of the
Thunder. "They are virtually top five on offense, top five on
defense. ... They play so unselfishly on both ends. They play
for each other. That's why they are good."
Bulls guard Jimmy Butler suffered a sprained ankle in the second
quarter and didn't return. Even so, Chicago trailed just 55-52
"They have some prideful players," Brooks said. "They play hard.
They haven't won as many games as they would like. It's hard to
win in this league when you have injuries. They've had a lot of
them to a lot of very good players. What I like about the team
is they will continue to battle and find ways."
NOTES: Bulls G Kirk Hinrich missed his fourth consecutive game
with a back injury, and Chicago F Luol Deng sat out due to
Achilles soreness. ... Despite ranking fourth in the NBA in
scoring, the Thunder are 26th in 3-point shooting, which has
coach Scott Brooks concerned. "We are focused on improving, and
that's an area we'd like to get better," Brooks said. "We
believe in 3-point shots. We feel that's a big part of the game.
I'd like us to take more and make more." ... Oklahoma City F
Kevin Durant and several teammates attended the Jay-Z "Magna
Carter World Tour" concert Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy
Arena. Durant, who represented by Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, got
a shout-out from his agent during the show. ... After the game,
Chicago F Joakim Noah walked into the Oklahoma City locker room
with Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha, a former Bull. Thunder C
Kendrick Perkins was not happy about the visit, and he exchanged
words with Noah.
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