The Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose’s 29 points and 7 assists, defeated Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) 104-98 Wednesday night at the United Center to improve their season record to 4-2. The Bulls went on a 10-4 fourth quarter run to seal the hard-fought victory (Watch Rose’s post-match interview below).
With a healthy trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, Thunder were expected to have a bounce back season after their injured squad missed last year’s playoffs. In fact, many pundits believed Thunder to be the biggest threat to champions Golden State Warriors.
For Thunder fans, there is reason to worry. They dropped their third consecutive game Wednesday and now find themselves in the middle of the pack (3-3 record) in a loaded Western Conference.
Rose looked like his former MVP self, shooting an efficient 12/25 from the field and keeping his turnovers to just two. Rose was ably supported by backcourt partner, Jimmy Butler, who dropped 26 points and played lockdown defense for 2 blocks and a steal.
“For him to have a game like this, I know this is a huge confidence booster,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. Bulls returned to winning after getting squashed by Charlotte 130-105 on Tuesday night. “That game was embarrassing a little bit,” said Rose. “Looking at film after it happened, we were frustrated. We felt like we let each other down. After the way we practiced yesterday, we could tell we got that competitive spirit again.”
Durant led the Thunder with 33 points while Ibaka added another 17 points and 2 blocks. Westbrook nearly achieved a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. Despite such individual brilliance, the Thunder couldn’t match the Bulls’ defensive prowess. “It’s not four games in five nights,” Durant said when asked the reason for his team’s third consecutive defeat. “We have to figure it out. We have to figure it out, man. We’ve got to get stops. We have to buckle down and do it.”
The Thunder now host Phoenix Suns on Sunday while the Bulls host Minnesota on Saturday.