After squeaking out an overtime victory against the Houston Rockets, the Chicago Bulls welcomed the OKC Thunder (Zap!) to the UC. After missing a few games with injury, Kevin Durrant returned to the Thunder (Blazam!) in their last game, to rejoin Russell Westbrook, who has been blowing up this season. With Carlos Boozer warming up against the Rockets, this looked like a great test against a team that many picked to finish second to only the Lakers in the West.
The first quarter saw Boozer get into an early rhythm. Bulls fans around the nation – ready to write off the free agent signing after his first two games – breathed a collective sigh of relief. Boozer’s rhythm was matched by a rather beatless game. Neither team looked very fluid. Rose had some shots (open and forced) rim out, while Noah picked up two quick fouls from the refs who matched the inconsistency of the match. The quarter rounded up with a Taj Gibson missed heave and the Bulls up by two.
The second quarter progressed in much the same way. Unit: DJ TrainWreck started the second and did not feature a single starter, as has been the fad. Yet, the lineup did include Gibson (a starter until the recent return of Boozer) and Ronnie Brewer (playing more minutes than starter Keith Bogans, as of late). UDJTW put up some quality minutes against the Thunder (Pow!). In particular was one Kyle Korver, who heated up as the quarter progressed. However, as the main unit filtered back in and looked solid, the Bulls only found themselves up by five at the half.
It was not until the third that the Bulls saw their visual superiority turn into results on the scoreboard. It is not much of a coincidence that their ability to pull away came while Durrant mysteriously sat on the bench. Everyone watching, the Bulls announcers included, assumed that the superstar was injured or ill, but the report came from the sidelines that this was not the case. The Thunder (Ka-Boom!) played the night before and certainly looked like it. Therefore, the only reasoning that Durrant was on the bench is that he was gassed. When the Bulls go against a likeable team (aka, not the Celtics) like the Thunder (Wham!), you want to see them go against the best the have. So, it was a little disappointing that Durrant sat for so long.
By the time he did return in the fourth, the game was starting to become a formality. The Bulls entered the quarter up by 16 and looked hardly bothered until the Thunder (Zam-o!) started to apply a full-court press. The press bothered them, but not enough so that OKC could have reversed a double digit lead. After the buzzer sounded, the Bulls won by nine, but it never was even that close in the end.
Without a doubt, the story of this game was the arrival of Carlos Boozer. After having a solid game against the Rockets, The Beard dropped 29 points and 12 rebounds on OKC. What was most impressive was how fluid he looked in the Bulls offense. In his first couple of games, Boozer looked clueless and slow on the floor. In this contest, he seemed to always be where he needed to be. Whether that spot was trailing for a mid-range jumper or laying low for an easy dump-off, Boozer was there. If The Beard is still not 100% – which I suspect he is not – than start licking your chops, Bulls fan!
Hopefully, a trend was not started with Rose having the inverse showing of Boozer’s game. Rose had a poor shooting night (3-13), often not finishing his signature drives, and also turning it over five times. On the flipside, Rose’s passing was better than his nine assists would suggest. And on that note, the Bulls in general moved the ball around very well.
Regardless of the Thunder’s (Smack!) odd use of Durrant, this was a solid victory for the Bulls, and the beginning of another winning streak. OKC is expected to be a team that will make a run in the playoffs, and the Bulls split the season series with them. And to that, I raise my glass, down my Manhattan, and award thee two Reagans.