Preview: Thunder at Bulls
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[March 17, 2014]
Russell Westbrook is expected to be
back in the lineup for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chicago Bulls on
Monday, and it sure looks like they could use him. Westbrook sat out as
a precaution on the first night of a back-to-back and the Thunder never
got much going on either end in a 109-86 loss at Dallas on Sunday. The
Bulls are winners of two straight and are trying to track down the
Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Westbrook and Oklahoma City appeared to be rounding into form
with two wins that included strong defensive efforts along with
All-Star performances from the recovering point guard. The Thunder
looked like a much different team at home against the Mavericks on
Sunday, when Kevin Durant scored 30 points but got little help.
Chicago is a half-game behind the Raptors for the No. 3 spot as is
comes into the finale of a six-game homestand with a 3-2 record.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), CSN Chicago
ABOUT THE THUNDER (48-18): Oklahoma City has slipped two games
behind the surging San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western
Conference after Sunday's loss and will play three straight and four
of the next five on the road. Westbrook is being brought along
slowly after his third knee surgery and coach Scott Brooks elected
to sit him for Sunday's home game instead of the road contest on the
back-to-back set. Westbrook turned in one of his better games in
Thursday's 131-102 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers with 29 points on
9-of-17 shooting to go along with nine assists and three steals in
ABOUT THE BULLS (37-29): Chicago absolutely crushed the last Western
Conference contender it faced with a 111-87 rout of the Houston
Rockets on Thursday but had a little more trouble in Saturday's
94-87 triumph over the lowly Sacramento Kings. Joakim Noah continues
to carry the Bulls and put up 23 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists
and five blocks against the Kings. “He really does it all for us,”
forward Mike Dunleavy told reporters of Noah. “He brings it every
night. He's an inspiring teammate. When you pass it to him and you
cut, you're always going to have your eyes open because the ball
will end up finding you some how, some way.”
[to top of second column]
The Thunder have taken four straight in the series, including a
107-95 home triumph on Dec. 19.
Dunleavy is 7-for-12 from 3-point range in the last two games.
Durant has hit multiple 3-pointers in six straight contests.
PREDICTION: Thunder 101, Bulls 92
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