USA TODAY Sports
oh, the humanity...
The Bulls needed a special night if they were going to compete with the Thunder on their home floor, but it turned out special in the completely wrong direction. The Bulls offense was a complete disaster, posing no threat even as the Thunder were far from crisp themselves. The Thunder eventually found enough of a groove to render the 4th quarter meaningless, and it resulted in a 102-72 drubbing.
Chicago had two 36-point halves and shot under 30% in the game, but it somehow seemed even worse than that. The Bulls were able to get some effort points on the glass (10 points in the first half), and through fast-breaks when the turnover-prone Thunder were seemingly just messing around knowing they had this game won early. And even using that advantage (OKC had 10 turnovers in the first 16 minutes), the Bulls were nowhere close as they simply couldn't get any good looks out of their set offense. Nate Robinson made it clear early it wasn't going to be one of his epic nights, and the rest of the dominoes fell to a Thunder team that looked way too big and athletic at nearly every position. Even when the Bulls weren't rushing shots, it just meant a higher degree of difficulty in trying to penetrate or pass to get a quality one. By the end of the night they had matched what the Thunder did in terms of turnovers, and the Thunder looked far more impressive in making the Bulls pay for it.
Like the game just 3 nights ago against another elite squad, it looked like the Thunder were just biding their time against the Bulls. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both showed extreme ease in getting the shots they wanted, and the inordinate number of misses they accumulated to start the game didn't seem too concerning to them. Eventually they found their way towards relatively productive nights, with the real key being that the Bulls had no chance to keep up. The ESPN telecast made mention throughout the first half of the four instances of 3+ minute FG droughts by the Bulls, and they opened the second half with another one. By the time the 3rd quarter was over, the game was long decided, and the bench finished out the game on both sides.
Nobody played well for the Bulls, and given some of the hustle points they generated I don't think it was a lack of effort. They just looked like an overmatched roster, and not just from where OKC's superstars lined up, as the Bulls frontcourt struggled mightily. Joakim Noah was having a hell of a time trying to finish inside, and a silver lining from the blowout was at least he didn't have to keep looking wiped out when on the court. Boozer had maybe his worst game of the season (2 points, 3 turnovers), playing a speed so slow it was if he just got called in from a different league. Taj Gibson shot 2-11.
[Gibson also sprained his knee in the game. Don't make me ever watch a second of this one again, but from what I remember it initially looked like he banged it against someone else, but a replay showed more of a non-contact situation where somebody stepped on his foot. Either way he looked in real play, though he sometimes looks like that and can play immediately.]
The Bulls were on their 3rd string point guard and that will always be an issue, but this game is also an indicator of how far they are from elite without Derrick Rose, especially with Deng and Noah seemingly slowing down. The record has been nice and Thibs will get them to play their way to enough victories, but this team hasn't really looked good for a while against real opposition, and it really shows when they play top-notch opposition like tonight.