Thunder vs. Bulls: Five takeaways from OKC's win vs. Chicago
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort powered a 22-point Thunder comeback against the Bulls on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It tied the fifth-biggest comeback in Thunder history and was the second-biggest comeback in the NBA this season. Last season the Thunder came back from 26 points to beat the Bulls.
“That was the relentless, competitive spirit of the teams that were really good teams here,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “We’ve got a lot of new players, and we’ve got a lot of young players, and that’s the type of mentality we’re trying to nurture.
“Even if we didn’t win it, we stood back up tonight.”
- Related to this story
- Article: Tramel: Don't worry yet about the Thunder's propensity for close wins
- Article: How to watch Thunder vs. 76ers: Live stream, TV channel, game time, lineups
- Article: Thunder: Analyzing 12 trends through first 12 games, from Lu Dort's 3-point shooting to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's solo attack
- Article: Thunder-76ers game postponed due to COVID-19 protocols
- Article: How to watch Thunder at Nuggets: Live stream, TV channel, game time, lineups
- Article: Thunder without Al Horford, Ty Jerome on five-game road trip
- Article: Thunder vs. Nuggets: Five takeaways from OKC's loss at Denver
- Article: Tramel: Mark Daigneault is a gift to Thunder fans & media
- Video: Thunder Update: Thunder's 22-point comeback clinches win over Bulls
Here are five takeaways from OKC’s 127-125 overtime win:
SGA great late
An animated Shai Gilgeous-Alexander strutted to the Thunder’s bench when Bulls coach Billy Donovan called timeout with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter.
Gilgeous-Alexander had gotten to the rim yet again.
Gilgeous-Alexander flashed his full arsenal of creative finishes around the basket whether it was the scoop, floater, runner or up-and-under.
The 22-year-old guard scored 12 points in the fourth quarter on 5-of-5 shooting.
The Bulls led 118-108 with two minutes left, but Gilgeous-Alexander capped the Thunder’s comeback with 16 seconds left.
OKC trailed 118-115 when Gilgeous-Alexander banked in a spinning six-footer over Bulls guard Coby White. Gilgeous-Alexander finished through a foul and cashed in on the three-point play to tie the game and send it to overtime.
“Shai is special,” former Thunder point guard Chris Paul tweeted during the game. “Get to watch him for a long time!”
Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He added 10 assists and five rebounds.
“He just stuck with it,” Daigneault said. “He was really, really relentless tonight, especially in the second half. He was hungry on every single possession, and I thought he did a really good job defensively.”
The Bulls shot 56% in the first half for 68 points. Chicago was 10-of-18 from 3-point range led by Zach LaVine (4-of-5).
LaVine’s hot shooting carried into the second half. He drilled back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third quarter which forced Daigneault to call timeout.
LaVine is known as a volume scorer, but he was an efficient scorer against the Thunder. He finished with 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 11-of-19 shooting.
Every Bulls starter scored at least 14 points. Chicago shot 47% from the floor and 46% (21-of-46) from 3-point range.
Turnovers were Chicago’s downfall. The Thunder forced 24 of them, and OKC outscored Chicago 33-11 in points off turnovers.
The Lu Dort show
The Thunder’s offense was sluggish in the first half. Enter Lu Dort.
Dort fueled a 25-5 Thunder run in the third quarter. Chicago’s 22-point lead was slashed.
Dort scored 10 straight points midway through the quarter. After scoring four points in the first half, Dort scored 15 points in the third quarter on 5-of-9 shooting. He connected on 3-of-7 3-point attempts.
Dort was back to his defensive ways in the fourth quarter. The second-year guard dove on the floor to steal possession from the Bulls with 58 seconds left and OKC down 118-113.
Dort then drew an offensive foul with 50 seconds left as Chicago tried to inbound the ball.
“That’s what we all expect from Lu every night, and he brings it every night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He does and makes winning plays all the time.”
Dort finished 7-of-15 for 21 points, eight rebounds and a career-high six steals.
Centers step up
Al Horford (personal reasons) was unavailable Friday night, which meant Isaiah Roby earned the start.
Roby scored 14 points with four rebounds and three assists before fouling out.
Backup center Mike Muscala closed the game, and Muscala drilled two 3-pointers in overtime to score six of the Thunder’s nine points in the extra frame.
Bazley out, Williams in
Darius Bazley was noticeably absent from the Thunder’s closing lineup.
The second-year forward had a three-game stretch from Jan. 2-6 when he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game, but he’s averaged just 6.6 points in the five games since. Bazley has shot below 40% in each of those games.
He was 3-of-12 with a team-high four turnovers against the Bulls.
“I thought Baze really fought,” Daigneault said. “He was really trying to turn it. He obviously didn’t play great in the first half, he didn’t play great to start the second half. Tried to just light a spark with K-Rich there in the third. It wasn’t a slight toward Baze.”
Kenrich Williams was a spark.
He was a perfect 6-of-6 with 14 points and five rebounds. Williams was especially active on defense.
“K-Rich is a dog,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He does all the little things. And a lot like Lu, makes winning basketball plays on both ends of the floor and plays the right way. Guys that are as selfless as he is, they ultimately help winning no matter where they go or what situation they’re in.”