Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls
Bulls top Thunder in thrilling fashion
Bulls improve to 39-23 on the season
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By Sam Smith | 3.05.2015 | 9:45 p.m. CT
The Bulls pulled off one of the unlikeliest and dizzying victories Thursday, 108-105 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on an E’Twaun Moore three pointer with 2.1 seconds left.
The Bulls withstood 43 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Russell Westbrook for the comeback win in which they trailed by 16 in the first half and by nine midway through the fourth quarter.
The Bulls were led by Nikola Mirotic for the third straight game, this time with 26 points off the bench. Pau Gasol and Mike Dunleavy each had 21 points and Moore had a season high 19 points.
There was much anticipation with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook trying to a fifth consecutive triple double and also the return to work of famed TNT sideline broadcaster Craig Sager from his battle with cancer. The Bulls did a video tribute for Sager, a native of west suburban Batavia. The Bulls came out fast with an 8-4 lead behind Gasol’s shooting. But the Thunder roared back with Westbrook’s passion and productivity in a 19-6 run and led 30-18 after one. The Bulls looked overwhelmed to start the second quarter, falling behind 37-21. But led by the spirited play of Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore’s defense on Westbrook, the Bulls took off on a 16-4 run and with Gasol scoring late pulled within 50-48 at halftime. The Bulls pushed ahead of the Thunder early in the third quarter with Mike Dunleavy making a pair of three pointers amidst overall spotty Bulls long distance shooting. But with Westbrook pushing the ball at the Bulls for 19 third quarter points, the Thunder took a 79-72 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Thunder seemed in control in taking a 100-91 lead midway through the fourth, but the Bulls got back behind E’Twaun Moore and Mirotic to 100-97 with under three minutes remaining and a battle the rest of the way.
1. Russell Westbrook’s playing fury has increased with Kevin Durant out injured as Westbrook’s offensive play has been dominant and seemingly unstoppable.
2. Pau Gasol seems back healthy after virus and sinus problems the last week with an active offensive game to start, though he pretty much was the lone offensive option early in the game.
3. Joakim Noah continues to look like the Noah of last season with increased enthusiasm and heightened effort all over the court as well as creative play on offense.