Probably the most telling moment of the evening was about halfway through the fourth quarter when the Thunder took five shots from point-blank distance on a single possession and came away empty-handed. It was at this precise moment that it became evident that the Bulls were going to do a better job down the line than did the Nets. The events of Wednesday night would be repeated only in one aspect: the final score, 114-112 — but this time the Thunder were on the losing side of the ledger.
It wasn’t supposed to happen that way, of course. The last Thunder possession at Chicago followed the pattern set at Brooklyn: get Paul George loose for a trey. Tonight, though, PG-13 landed the shot just slightly wide of the mark. He finished with 19 points, 28 fewer than he’d had on Wednesday. And Russell Westbrook popped up with what could be called a quadruple-double: 24 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists — and 10 turnovers. Zach LeVine coughed it up nine times for the Bulls to go with his 25 points, but somehow it didn’t seem quite so heinous. Perhaps it was the return to form of Lauri Markkanen, who’d been injured earlier in the season and who probably wasn’t expected to come up with 24 points tonight, let alone the game-winning bucket inside the five-second mark that kept threatening to roll out of the cylinder but never quite did. And let it be known that the Bulls shot 50 percent or better almost the entire night, finishing at 52 (43-82). The Thunder got 12 more shots, but no more goals (43-94, 46 percent). This is what happens when you take five shots in a single possession and come away empty-handed.
All five teams in the Northwest are at .500 or better, and the Thunder play two of them next week: Utah at home on Monday, at Denver on Friday. (In between, a trip to New Orleans; the Pels are one game below .500.) Just to complicate matters further, the Clippers, second in the West — the Nuggets are first — show up Saturday.