Thunder at Chicago Bulls Game Recap – Oct. 28, 2017

CHICAGO – Talk about getting right. The Thunder fired on all cylinders on Saturday night defensively, got some early sharpshooting from Paul George and the starters had the chance to sit out the fourth quarter.

It was a 101-69 blowout victory for the Thunder over the Chicago Bulls tonight, moving the record for the season to 3-3 and providing Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club a feel good victory after a tough loss to Minnesota on Friday night. The defense was on point early as the Thunder raced out to a 15-3 lead, then to start the second quarter, it held Chicago to just two points through the first 7:40 of the period.

The defense was stifling because it forced 20 total turnovers, many of which were basically interceptions thrown right into the Thunder’s hands because of great positioning and helpside rotations. But the Thunder also shut off the fouls and second chances that it had been giving up in recent games, which really forced Chicago to struggle through halfcourt heaves over contesting defenders. The Bulls shot just 28.2 percent from the field on the night.

“We were really active with our hands,” Donovan said. “We got to passes, we slowed down passes and it gave us an opportunity to recover… We had stamina and had discipline for a long period of time.”

“It just came down to pressure on the ball and trying not to let them go middle,” center Steven Adams explained. “Forcing them baseline, forcing them into help. From there it’s the backside being disciplined and rotating well.”

On offense, the Thunder wasn’t lights out, but got going early thanks to Paul George, who was blistering from the three-point line as he hit his first four from behind the arc. The Thunder knocked down 13 threes as a group, and George was an offensive force throughout his 29 minutes of action. He finished with 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting, plus five rebounds and four steals.

“I’m starting to find it,” George said of his rhythm. “My body has loosened up and I feel a lot more comfortable being in catch and shoot situations. I’m still figuring out some other areas I can exploit but the game is starting to open up for me.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Melo Operating From the Post

A nice wrinkle the Thunder incorporated more tonight than in previous games was utilizing Carmelo Anthony as the conduit of offense with the second unit. Instead of walking into jumpers from further out on the floor, Anthony posted up closer to the basket, waited to sniff out double teams and went to work.

“It was just a matter of taking advantage of what they were throwing at me. I was able to get down more to the post tonight. I was being patient and seeing if the double team was coming,” Anthony explained. “It was easy from there.”

Anthony finished with just two assists to go with his 21 points and five rebounds, but the way those assists, and other offense, was generated was promising. The first came when Raymond Felton’s defender dropped down to dig the ball out of the post, and Anthony immediately fired back to Felton for a three. The other came when Jerami Grant cut from the top of the key into the lane, and Anthony zipped a pass in for an old-fashioned three-point play. On top of shooting over the top of defenders, this is an excellent way for Anthony to make the offense hum.

“I’ve seen it throughout my whole career, the double team. It makes the game easier when you can catch, get the double team, kick and it,” Anthony explained. “Ray did a good job getting to the open spots and if he didn’t have it we had swing-swing to the corner.”

Highlights: Carmelo Anthony (21 points) at Bulls

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Russ Rounds Out his Triple-Double List

Mid-way through the third quarter Russell Westbrook was sitting one point and two assists shy of a triple-double. Three possessions later, he had locked up his third of the season and 82nd of his career.

First he lingered off the left elbow for just a second after coming around a screen, waiting for the perfect opportunity to drop Andre Roberson a lob pass over the top for an alley-oop. Next, Westbrook hit the jets in transition and finished an absurd lefty layup through a foul for an and-one bucket. After one more Thunder stop, Westbrook organized the offense, drove left around a Steven Adams screen and then lofted the ball to his big man, who threw down a dunk with an authoritative right hand.

With his 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in 28 minutes against Chicago, Westbrook has now triple-doubled against all 29 NBA opponents in his career.

“He’s such a unique individual,” Donovan said of his point guard. “More than anything else with him, it’s really his mentality that I have great respect and admiration for. He’s an old-school, just bring it (guy), and has certain values of how the game is played from a competitive standpoint.”

“All I worry about is getting a win,” Westbrook said.

He’s now triple-doubled every other team in the league. @budweiser Photo of the Game.

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on Oct 28, 2017 at 7:41pm PDT

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

What’s On Deck

Next up for the Thunder is the Milwaukee Bucks, who it will face on Tuesday to complete this three- game road trip. The players will get a well-deserved day off on Sunday, then practice on Monday before the flight to Milwaukee. Check back in to okcthunder.com for practice coverage!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

By the Numbers

0 – Teams in the NBA that Russell Westbrook has not recorded a triple-double against

8 – Points that the Thunder held Chicago to in the second quarter, just two more than the Thunder’s team record of six points allowed in a quarter

8 – Turnover differential in the Thunder’s favor, as it turned 20 Chicago giveaways into 18 points

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Last Word

“We were setting the tone. Being able to do that put us in the position to do good things… We’re just using our length, our hands, sinking in and using our size when we can.” – point guard Russell Westbrook

No problem there. Good night from Chicago #TheBrodie

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on Oct 28, 2017 at 7:57pm PDT

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *