Who are you, and what have you done with the Chicago Bulls? Admittedly, this is not generally a high-scoring team, but thirty-six at halftime? Fifty-four after three? Da Bulls were shooting less than 20 percent in the first quarter, and finally got somewhere near 30 in the waning moments, as the Thunder coasted to an easy 102-72 win.
Yeah, yeah, we know: Derrick Rose. But he’s been out quite a while, and the Bulls had been doing pretty well in his absence: nine games over .500, a couple of ticks behind the streaking Pacers. Look at this instead: Joakim Noah, eight points. Richard Hamilton, five points. Carlos Boozer, two points. Luol Deng and Nate Robinson carried the offensive weight with 13 points each? How is that possible? Chicago did play some decent defense — ten steals, five blocks — but when Taj Gibson departed with a sprain, I suspect he was glad to be gone.
The big news for OKC, I suppose, was Jeremy Lamb’s career-high 9 points. The starters did what starters are supposed to do — both Kevin Durant (19 points, 16 rebounds) and Serge Ibaka (17/10) had double-doubles, Thabo Sefolosha (11) and Russell Westbrook (23) provided punch more or less on call, and Kendrick Perkins didn’t score a point but hauled in eight boards. Ronnie Brewer was apparently at shootaround this morning, but his paperwork wasn’t complete or something; he’ll presumably show up Wednesday against the Large-Billed Sea Birds.
Perhaps Scott Brooks is now happy with the OKC defense. Or maybe not: he could point to the Bulls’ 71-69 loss to Boston a week and a half ago, followed by an 86-67 pasting by Miami last Thursday, and would then demand, “How did you let these guys score 72?” The man is never pleased.