NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Bulls (9-15) at Oklahoma City Thunder (20-4), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Thunder are off to their best home start in the Oklahoma City era and hope to extend the impressive run Thursday versus the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder have won the first 12 games as the host and they're the only unbeaten team at home this season. They have won seven in a row overall, averaging 110.3 points per game in that span, and 15 of the last 16 games, including Tuesday's 105-93 triumph at Denver.
Russell Westbrook almost posted a triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer with 28.6 ppg, finished with a game-best 30 points. Durant has scored at least 28 points in six of OKC's seven straight wins.
Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot 48.9 percent and used a 14-2 run to grab an 18-point advantage. The Thunder equaled the second best start to a season in franchise history, while the Seattle SuperSonics kicked off the 1993-94 campaign 21-3.
"I thought our offense was really good," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "We were really patient. We executed in the halfcourt. Russell did a phenomenal job leading the group to start the game and finish the game."
The Thunder, who are fourth in the NBA with 105.6 ppg and have the best winning percentage in the league (.833), last started a season 13-0 at home back in 1976-77.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will close out their quick road trip and are coming off Wednesday's 109-94 loss to Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Howard had 23 points, while James Harden and Chandler Parsons both added 19 in the win.
Chicago was led by Jimmy Butler's 20 points and Luol Deng netted 18. Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, for the Bulls, losers in three straight and 12 of the last 15 games.
"When you lose, it's not fun, but we have to keep battling," said Bulls center Joakim Noah, who had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Bulls fell to just 3-10 away from home and are averaging 91.3 points per game. However, the Bulls are one of the top defensive units in the NBA, allowing just 93.1 ppg.
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich has missed the last three games with a back issue and is questionable for Thursday. He took over the point guard spot when Derrick Rose underwent another knee procedure.
Chicago lost both meetings with Oklahoma City last season and six of the past nine matchups between the teams.
The Bulls have lost three in a row in the OKC.
12/19 11:17:03 ET