There’s something very pleasing about making a team that takes a lot of pride in its defense and hustle look like absolute amateurs, although that’s been the story recently for the Chicago Bulls, and especially in their visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who didn’t need anything special from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
How easy was it? Kevin Durant was having an awful shooting game (6-19), finishing with 19 points and 16 rebounds, playing 32 minutes. Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, but also, played only 32 minutes. Serge Ibaka got his fair share of scoring opportunities as the Thunder downed the Bulls 102-72.
While part of the story was how impressive and efficient the Thunder looked on defense, trying to build a new winning streak to gain a bit of confidence that the team has lost recently in losses to the Heat and the Rockets, the Bulls, dropping like a sinking stone before and after the All-Star break, being so bad, was more of an issue.
Chicago shot a pathetic 29.1% from the field, as their inability to do anything on offense continued – They turned the ball over 17 times, and Nate Robinson didn’t really do a good job in running the floor, finishing with 2-14 from the field, with the Bulls losing by 23 points during his minutes on the floor.
The Bulls did beat the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets in recent games, but they’ve won only 4 of 11 in February, filled with performances that are usually filled with turnovers (against the Spurs) or simply unable to create a decent scoring opportunity if it isn’t off a turnover or an offensive rebound, like in their 67 and 69 point performances against the Celtics and the Heat.
The way we competed was just embarrassing. The way we competed was bad. It’s not time to feel sorry for ourselves. You have to do what’s best for the team, not necessarily what’s best for yourself to get yourself going. You can’t get stuck in whatever problems you’re having individually. You have to do your job for the team first. We’ve got enough. We have to do our jobs. We’ve shown when we do that, we’re capable of beating anyone. We have to be mentally tougher, we have to be stronger. When you face a little bit of adversity with whatever, when you’re short-handed, you have to dig down and get the job done.
The Thunder did do a good job defending the Bulls, but it seems that any team with a decent defense can do a good job on the Bulls these days, especially with Nate Robinson running the show and not Kirk Hinrich, not even talking about the missing Derrick Rose, who looks more and more likely to miss the entire season.
The Thunder have now won two straight, putting them three games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the chase for the lead in the Western Conference. Despite keeping the Bulls under 20% in the first half from the field, the turnovers (17) kept them in the game. Sometimes, all it takes is stopping to give up the ball, while winning by 30 points doesn’t mean you had a good game.
We did a lot of good things, but at the same time, it’s the NBA. Maybe they had a night off or something like this. Credit to the way we prepared this game mentally, the way we came out, but at the same time, we can’t see ourselves as too good.