OKLAHOMA CITY â€” The Oklahoma City Thunder faced the National Basketball Associationâ€™s best team, the Chicago Bulls, at home Sunday afternoon in a nationally-televised game on ABC. The Thunder, riding a six-game win streak, had already defeated the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers in the past four games, and is vying for the best record in the NBA.
Oklahoma City, in front of yet another sellout crowd, led from start to finish as they easily defeated Chicago 92-78.
The Thunder defense played really well, holding the Bulls to just 78 points on 32-percent shooting.
â€śWe played our best defense of the year,â€ť Thunder Coach Scott Brooks said. â€śWe challenged every pass, challenged every look and every shot. We came out with good energy and toughness, and I thought it was important that we did that in this game.â€ť
Oklahoma City led by 10 at halftime, but it was the third quarter that really put the Thunder in position to get their 40th win of the season. Chicago shot just 24 percent from the field, while OKC was shooting 55 percent. The Thunder opened the third quarter on a 15-2 run, and held the Bulls to just 12 points as they took an 80-51 lead entering the final quarter.
â€śWe just picked up the intensity, I think,â€ť Thunder star player Kevin Durant said. â€śEvery possession, weâ€™ve just been trying to scramble as hard as we can on the defensive end and move the ball on the offensive end. Weâ€™ve got to keep it up.â€ť
The Bulls once again played without All-Star point guard Derrick Rose for the 10th straight game. They are 7-3 in those games.
â€śWe know itâ€™s going to be tough for those guys without Derrick, but theyâ€™ve been playing very well,â€ť Durant said.
Durant finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds while Russell Westbrook added 27 points, five assists and four steals. The two combined to go 21-of-34 from the field.
Oklahoma City moved within a game (40-12) of the Bulls for the best record overall in the NBA. The Bulls are 42-12. More notable for OKC is the fact that they now hold the tiebreaker over Chicago if the two teams should finish with the same regular season record. If the two teams then faced each other in the NBA Finals, OKC would have homecourt advantage.
The Thunder faced Memphis at home Monday night and will travel to Miami to face the Heat Wednesday night in another tough match-up against a top Eastern Conference team.