Less than 24 hours after losing its third game in four tries, Oklahoma City came into Chicago trying to find some kind of rhythm and to pick up a win. Paul George picked up where he left off last night as he scored 9 points in the opening quarter on 3-3 shooting from three. Carmelo Anthony also knocked down a three on his way to scoring 7 points early as the Thunder shot 4-6 from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City was unable to defend the perimeter as the Bulls shot an incredible 6-11 from deep. The Thunder led 26-23 after one.
Oklahoma City got off to a hot start in the second quarter as they went on an 18-2 run to take a 19-point lead just a little over midway through the period. The defense kept up the pressure, and the offense kept their foot on the accelerator as the Thunder would end up outscoring the Bulls 24-8 for the quarter to take a 50-31 lead into halftime.
Chicago started off the second half with some intensity by scoring five straight points before Oklahoma City went on an 8-0 run of its own to take its largest lead of the night at 22. The Thunder would push the lead up to 27 on a Russell Westbrook to Steven Adams alley-oop. The dunk by Adams would give Westbrook a triple-double by way of his 10th assist of the night to go along with his 12 points and 12 rebounds. The triple-double against Chicago means that Westbrook has recorded a triple-double against every one of the 29 other teams in the NBA.
Westbrook and Paul George would go to the bench with a couple minutes left in the third quarter, where they would stay for the rest of play with the game in hand. Carmelo Anthony would guide the bench to the Thunder’s largest lead of the night as he knocked down back-to-back threes at the end of the period. Oklahoma City would finish the third up 82-53.
With the game well in hand, the bench would play the majority of the fourth quarter, and Chicago had no kind of answer to try to get back into the game. Every player that suited up for the Thunder saw play time tonight, and Oklahoma City came out on top 101-69.
3 Quick Thoughts
- The Defense is Real: One thing Oklahoma City has done well, at least statistically speaking, is play solid defense, and tonight was no different. The Thunder forced the Bulls into 20 turnovers, which turned into 17 points. Oklahoma City had 16 steals and 8 blocks, and what was perhaps the most impressive number was holding Chicago to only 8 points in the second quarter and 69 points total, which is a tie for the fewest points allowed by a Thunder team ever.
- Chemistry Is Coming: The more games these guys play together, the better the team starts to look. The Thunder put up a season-high 28 assists tonight, and with the way the ball was moving, it didn’t really look that difficult. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 20-44 (45.5%) from the floor, including 9-16 (56.3%) from three, and 4-5 (80%) from the free throw line to score 53 points despite not playing more than 29 minutes apiece. Steven Adams, who has realistically been the Thunder’s most consistent player so far this season, added 12 points on 6-10 (60%) shooting. If this game wasn’t a blowout, there’s no telling how many points the starters would have put up.
- The Bench Benefits: In games like this, the bench benefits immediately from the extra play time. Raymond Felton led the way for the second unit with 12 points as the reserve tallied 31 points total. One of the concerns for this team coming into this season was how well the backups would be able to perform and how much scoring burden they could carry, but so far, they look like they’re able to perform just fine.
The Road Trip Continues
The Thunder plays the third of its three-game road trip on Tuesday against the Bucks (3-2) in Milwaukee. Tip-off is at 7 PM CT, and the game will be televised on FSOK and NBATV. The game will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM the Sports Animal.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.