If the Bulls without Derrick Rose are hobbled, the Bulls without both Rose and Luol Deng are, um, hurting. Chicago’s defense, at least, was up to par: they fought for every rebound they could get, and they drew fouls at an amazing rate, especially in the first half. But once the Thunder started playing at their own pace, the Bulls were sausage: down three at the half, they trailed by seventeen with just over three minutes left, and OKC pocketed yet another home win, 107-95.
The Bulls did get plenty of second-chance points in the least favorable way: they missed a lot of first chances. They shot 38 percent, versus 51 for the Thunder. The three-ball was not their friend, either: 29 went up, only eight made. (OKC: 9-15, which is almost unheard of for this club.) Still, Chicago did manage to land six players in double figures, led by the indefatigable Joakim Noah, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. D. J. Augustin, pressed into point-guard service, had a creditable 15 points and five assists; Taj Gibson, spelling Noah and/or Carlos Boozer, paced the bench with 16. And you have to figure, six blocks and eight steals counts as respectable D.
Even with Serge Ibaka having a bad night (early foul trouble, only five points), though, OKC came up with seven blocks and 12 steals. (Steven Adams had four of those swipes, but then he goes after everything.) Another 30+ performance from Kevin Durant: 32 points, nine boards. And another double-double from Russell Westbrook: 20 points, 10 assists. Westbrook looked bent, possibly broken, late in the second quarter and retreated to the bench, but he stayed gone only long enough for the horn to open the third. From the bench, Reggie Jackson had 18 points; Nick Collison rattled down nine, and Jeremy Lamb seven.
So once again, an Eastern foe is disposed of with dispatch. Then again, Western teams only get to play the East 30 times in a season, and the West is full of teams like San Antonio, to whose house the Thunder must hie themselves Saturday night.