NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 17th (All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (48-18) at Chicago Bulls (37-29), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - St. Patrick's Day in Chicago could be memorable, (or unmemorable in some cases), when the Bulls host the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night.
The Bulls will close out a six-game homestand Monday night. They are 3-2 thus far on the residency, but the Bulls have won two straight. Chicago is the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and is 24-11 since Jan. 1.
The Bulls' most recent victory came Saturday night when they held off the valiant Sacramento Kings, 94-87.
Joakim Noah stuffed the stat sheet once again and carried the Bulls to the win. Last Sunday in a win over Miami, Noah became the first Bull in 19 years with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots. He did it again on Saturday.
Noah finished with 23 points, 11 boards, eight assists, five blocks and three steals for Chicago.
"His rebounding, his defense, his playmaking, you can see with the scoring component he's gotten better and better," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah.
Taj Gibson played a big part as well, contributing 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Mike Dunleavy chipped in 16 points, followed by 12 from D.J. Augustin and 10 out of Kirk Hinrich.
It should be an interesting battle of styles Monday night. The Bulls are tied for the league's lead in opponents' scoring, while OKC is the fourth-best offensive team in the NBA.
The Thunder are an elite offensive unit, but they were held below 100 points for the first time in nine games Sunday. OKC fell at home to the Dallas Mavericks, 109-86, to end a five-game home winning streak.
Kevin Durant poured in 30 points for the Thunder, who gave Russell Westbrook a rest having won five of their previous seven games. Durant has scored at least 25 points in 31 straight games.
Serge Ibaka finished with 19 points and six rebounds for Oklahoma City. Reggie Jackson, who started in Westbrook's place, scored 13 and was the final member of the Thunder in double figures.
OKC shot 36.7 percent from the field and just 31 percent from long range. That wasn't as much of a problem as the Thunder's defense. They allowed the Mavs to shoot 53.3 percent and 54.2 percent from the 3-point line.
"This wasn't one of our better games, we didn't come out with the energy it takes. We've just gotta play much better defense. We didn't do a lot of things right on the defensive end we were chasing the basketball all night," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
The Thunder, who are two behind the San Antonio Spurs for Western Conference supremacy, will visit Cleveland and Toronto on this current trip.
The Thunder have won four straight against the Bulls and three out of four in Chicago.
03/17 10:27:33 ET