In Kansas, they know — they love — basketball, and they got to see a pretty decent game tonight in Wichita: I don’t know if it’s too early to pick Thunder/Bulls as a preview of the Finals, but things were decidedly interesting, even if OKC fell back rather markedly after Kevin Durant rolled up three fouls in nine minutes. And there was some grumbling about Chicago boss Tom Thibodeau bringing back the starters in the fourth quarter — in the preseason, fercrissake — though analyst Grant Long suggested it might have been Derrick Rose’s idea, what with the Bulls having won however many straight. Scott Brooks, Boy Scout that he is, wasn’t about to recall KD and friends from the bench, and the Bulls ran back from a six-point deficit to take control, though the Thunder youngsters fought back gamely: the final was 104-95.
And Rose, who got three treys in that last quarter, finished with a game-high 26; frontcourt stalwarts Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer had 20 each and double-digit rebounds. More notable, perhaps, was that Rose played 35 minutes, which is almost Iron Man-level time given his absence for the entirety of last season. And anyway, the Bulls have one more preseason game, against the Nuggets.
KD had 22; but so did Jeremy Lamb, on 9-16 shooting. (Durant was 6-12, though he made up the difference at the foul line.) Neither Serge Ibaka nor Thabo Sefolosha, both of whom were roughed up a bit last time out, played this evening, and while their defense was missed, Steven Adams continues to impress in the middle, and if the Bulls led on the boards (46-32), assists were even at 23. If the Thunder could hit a few more treys — but never mind, we’ve already been there.
Next game is For Real, in Utah. (Home opener is game 3, against the Suns.) It will be nice not to have to qualify anything with the term “preseason” for the rest of the way.