Mike DiNovo - US Presswire
Kirk Hinrich leaves the game at halftime with a groin strain, but the Bulls starters played well against a diminished OKC team.
The Thunder were without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and 3rd wheel James Harden had a deplorable 2-17 shooting night, but it was still good to see the Bulls starters look quite good against the Thunder.
The one starter who didn't have a good evening was Kirk Hinrich, who didn't return after halftime after suffering a right groin strain. The Bulls have a uniquely shallow roster this season, and Hinrich wasn't just the fulcrum of their entire off-season (I know, still tough to imagine) but they desperately need him to stay on the court. Nate Robinson has showed some nice things in the preseason but isn't a full-time floor general, and Marquis Teague had another poor stint tonight in what's been a really trying rookie campaign.
Despite their perimeter featuring a lot of scrubby minutes, the Thunder starting frontcourt was intact (though Nick Collison didn't play), and both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah had big games. Boozer's jumper was hitting and he made some downright aggressive moves with and without the ball, finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. You almost wonder what kind of numbers he'd put up if he wasn't so damned terrible, but Booz managed to smartly take advantage where he could when the matchup was favorable, and the Thunder interior defense was often caught napping. Things didn't go as well with Boozer was charged to be the closer, but he did have a nice turnaround jumper in the final minute. Closing games (and quarters) in general will be an issue all Rose-less season.
Another issue all preseason has been 3-point shooting, but the Bulls cracked the 40% mark tonight with two each from Luol Deng (21 points) and Hinrich.
The bench once again wasn't able to hold leads all night, including a 4th quarter that saw the Bulls lead drop to 3 at one point, 'forcing' Thibs to put Luol Deng back in the game for the final 1:45. There will be more individual observations on this game later, but even Taj Gibson (scoreless in 19 minutes) had a really bad night with the 2nd unit against the Thunder's 3rd team.