Michael Cage: “This game will come down to who can make shots.” Um, yeah, Mike, thanks for that. Nobody was making shots in that dreadful 17-15 first quarter, even with yet another Thunder starting lineup: Westbrook, Roberson, Waiters, Kanter, Adams. There was more motion in the second, which ended at a 47-47 tie; it was 75-70 Thunder after three, but the Bulls scored the first five points in the fourth, so it was back to the teeter-totter, as radio guy Matt Pinto might say. With 1:12 left, it was OKC 99, Chicago 95; with 0:22 left, 106-97; Nikola Mirotić knocked down three free throws to bring the Bulls up to 100, and then Something Weird: Russell Westbrook hit a free throw, missed the second, got his own rebound and was fouled. Westbrook duly knocked down two more, and that was the end of it: 109-100, a split in the season series, and one game closer (for now) to the playoffs.
As they were the last time these two clubs met, two of the Bull reserves caused major grief: Mirotić, with a game-high 27, and E’Twaun Moore, with 11, only the second game for Moore this year in which he scored in double figures. (The first was against, yes, OKC.) It was evident early on that Enes Kanter really couldn’t guard Pau Gasol; then again, Gasol wasn’t defending Kanter especially well either. Gasol finished with 20 points and eight rebounds; Kanter had 18 points and 18 boards. The Bulls were basically obliterated on the boards, 52-33; what kept them in the game was the Thunder getting turnover-happy (17, versus only 11 for Chicago).
Starting Adams and Kanter together, made possible by Serge Ibaka’s bad knee, made for a fearsome front, and Adams too picked up a double-double 14 points, 11 rebounds before fouling out with about two minutes left. Dion Waiters, D. J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow contributed 11 points each to the cause, and there was another scary-looking Russell Westbrook line: 36-11-6. Russ hadn’t shot well 12-27, 2-6 from outside but it turned out to be well enough, and he still draws fouls in mass quantities.
The homestand ends here at 3-1; it’s off to Dallas tomorrow night. The Mavs, darn them, have tonight off.