What a game this was. Probably one of the best wins of the year. The last time the Thunder played the Bulls on January 9th, Chicago was crushed at home. However, they arrived at the Chesapeake Energy Arena with vengeance on their minds. For the Bulls, every player played and every player scored. Jimmy Butler lead the scoring with 28 points. However, all the players produced enough to hand Oklahoma City a crushing blow.
The Bulls played exceptionally well in the second quarter and through the end of the game. In the second, they scored 34. In the third, they scored 39 (!) and held OKC to 26 points. In the fourth, they did not blow any leads, as we are accustomed to seeing, but scored 34 points. The team shot 60.5% from the field and made 24 out of 30 shots from the free throw line. Moral of the story: the Bulls shot lights-out tonight.
Despite Westbrook scoring 28 (what can you do?), OKC only had two other double digit scorers in Jerami Grant (15 points) and Victor Oladipo (12 points). Normally, I would criticize the Bulls for letting their opponent score 100 points. That is never a good sign, unless you still manage to blow out a team by 28 points.
My player of the game is Butler. He played 30 minutes while making 11 of 17 of his shots to go along with four rebounds, five assists, and three steals. However, Dwyane Wade, Robin Lopez, and Jerian Grant were also fantastic on the offensive side of the ball. Wade had 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Lopez knocked seven of eight shots for 14 points. Grant came alive for 12 points, while shooting five of seven from the field.
The Bulls bench played well, too, headlined by Michael Carter-Williams, Doug McDermott, and Cristiano Felicio. So, this was a full-team effort. Similar to the last victory versus the 76ers on Sunday, the Bulls came together on both sides of the ball. They made their shots and shutdown their opponents. The Bulls now have a .500 record and are seventh place in the East. If they keep playing the way they have been for the past two games, then they can move their way up the ladder of the Eastern standings. A lot needs to happen for that to happen. If they want to commit themselves to the playoffs, they cannot trade away their core players which raises a large red flag because that is what many people think should happen. They need to put their issues with Wade, Butler, and Rondo that arose a week ago away for good. The three of them need to be leaders. The bench needs to stay consistent, as Hoiberg must give more minutes to guys who are rising like Paul Zipser and Cristiano Felicio. I do think it is possible for the Bulls to climb. It will be a lot of work, but these past two games were good starting points.