Pro basketball

Bulls feeling green with envy in loss to OKC

2014-03-17T21:00:00Z 2014-03-21T20:36:21Z Bulls feeling green with envy in loss to OKCAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
March 17, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Michael Jordan, meet Kevin Durant.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, led by MVP candidate Durant, visited the United Center Monday night a bit green in the face and it had nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day.

The Thunder were coming off a sickly-looking 109-86 loss to Dallas on Sunday, their worst of the season, and had lost four of their last six road games.

They got healthy at the Bulls' expense, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 97-85 victory.

This one was over after OKC went on a 13-0 run midway in the final period for an 89-75 advantage while Chicago was missing 11 consecutive shots.

"Penetration by Joe (Joakim Noah), open 3s by D.J. (Augustin). You got to make 'em," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It's a make or miss league."

The Bulls shot .345 and missed 17 of 22 three-point attempts.

NBA scoring leader Durant led OKC (49-18) with 35 points, 12 rebounds and five assists — his 32nd straight game of 25 points or more and the longest such streak since Jordan did it in 40 consecutive games.

"Durant is tough to defend. You can't guard him individually," Thibodeau said. "You have to guard him as a team."

Point guard Russell Westbrook, in his 11th game back since returning from a third knee surgery last April, added 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

OKC coach Scott Brooks still had an uneasy feeling about the Bulls' matchup.

"They've always played hard, tough defensive basketball. That's what they do," Brooks said in the pre-game.

"Don't let any coach fool you. It's about players. You win at a high level by having competitive, really good players. Fortunately for 'Tibs' and myself, we have guys who compete on every possession and at a very high level."

Winners in 13 of their last 18, the Bulls (37-30) wore kelly green uniforms to celebrate the holiday and were led by Taj Gibson's 16 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 11 rebounds but sat out the fourth quarter, once again. Noah chipped in 12 rebounds and nine assists.

A win by the Bulls would've forced a tie with Toronto for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls went 3-3 during their brutal six-game homestand with Memphis, Miami, San Antonio, Houston, Sacramento and OKC.

They still have not lost more than two games in a row since Dec. 21.

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