Chicago forward Jimmy Butler has not been well of late, but the Bulls organization decided he was probably good to go tonight. Well, maybe partially: he led the team with assists, with seven, but missed all six of his shots and one of two free throws, retiring for the night after 29 minutes and one point. If Butler, or for that matter Robin Lopez, had been up to speed, the Bulls might have made a game of it. As it stands, the Thunder’s 109-94 victory was nowhere near as close as it sounds: through three quarters, OKC was up 89-67, but they loosened up their grip in those final 12 minutes. Still, it’s a road win, something OKC has not had a lot of recently, enough to climb back into a tie with the Jazz for Northwest Division dominance.
The Chicago guards did what they could, with Michael Carter-Williams posting a season-high 15 points and Dwyane Wade looking something like the Dwyane Wade of old while picking up 22. The Bulls did gather rebounds, with reserve center Cristiano Felicio collecting 11 to go with 11 points, but a reasonably alert Thunder defense kept the Bulls from scoring much: Chicago shot a mere 41 percent from the field, while OKC was blithely pumping in 57. (Statistical oddity: both teams took 83 shots, but the Thunder hit 13 more.) Top scorer for the Thunder: Steven Adams, with 22. (Enes Kanter, your Sixth Man of the Year candidate, dropped in 20.) Russell Westbrook just barely missed another triple-double, recording 21-9-14. And in the Battle of the Grant Brothers, Jerian (CHI) scored 11, Jerami (OKC) seven.
Good news: the Thunder play next at home. Bad news: it’s against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have already walloped them once this year, albeit at the Fed Up Forum. Then on the road again, where the marquee game is the fourth of the trip: at Golden State, new home of some guy we used to mention a lot here.