The Bulls Monday didn’t get much from an ill Jimmy Butler, and Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder were too much in a 109-94 victory over the Bulls.
The Bulls were led by Dwyane Wade with 22 points. Michael Carter-Williams had 15. Cristiano Felicio had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Butler had just one points with seven assists after being ill during the day. Westbrook had 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. Steven Adams led Oklahoma City with 22 points. Enes Kanter had 20.
The Bulls in the first of three games in four nights fell back to .500 at 19-19. The Thunder is 23-16. The Bulls have another three in four nights starting Saturday as well.
Denzel Valentine remained out with a sprained ankle while Rajon Rondo was still on the bench with Michael Carter-Williams starting at point guard and Jerian Grant backing up. It also was another opportunity for the Grant brothers to match with Jerami now with the Thunder. There was uncertainty about Butler playing after he missed morning practice ill. Butler started, but was quiet early as the Bulls went to Wade for playmaking. But Wade collided with Mirotic on a screen with 4:18 left in the first quarter and went down holding the back of his neck and then went to the locker room with five points in the first seven minutes. The Thunder led 18-15 when he left. He did return to the bench later in the quarter. But the Bulls fell behind 26-20 after one quarter as Adams had multiple dunks and eight first quarter points as Oklahoma City shot 60 percent in the first quarter to 38.1 percent for the Bulls. Westbrook had five rebounds; the Bulls had seven. The Thunder had a massive 18-6 inside edge thanks to Adams. Kanter then came in and kept it going inside for the Thunder, running the floor and finishing ahead of the Bulls for a 39-22 Thunder lead three minutes into the second quarter. Wade probably won’t play in Washington Tuesday on the back to back. So with Butler ailing, Wade took charge at that point, scoring nine straight Bulls points while the Bulls defense tightened on the Thunder’s big men in the pick and roll. It led to an 18-4 Bulls run capped by an athletic Cristiano Felicio followup tip for a three-point play. That enabled the Bulls to get within 43-40 with 4:39 left in the half. But the Thunder big men, Adams and Kanter, went back to work inside. The Bulls tried to counter playing Robin Lopez with Felicio, but Oklahoma City closed the half with an 18-6 run on a Westbrook three for a 61-46 halftime lead. Wade had 14 points in the first half and Carter-Williams 11. Adams had 14, Westbrook 13 and Kanter 12, the Thunder with a 34-18 inside point advantage.
Oklahoma City continued to batter the Bulls inside, starting the second half going back to Adams rolling inside and then swinging the ball outside for jumpers. The Bulls still hung in, trailing 67-57 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. The Thunder then opened up their lead with a 22-7 run that featured Westbrook with a double crossover move on a fast break drive and Westbrook and Adams in pick and rolls and slam dunks to finish. It enabled the Thunder to go into the fourth quarter with an 89-67 lead led by Adams with 20 points and the Thunder shooting 57 percent. Butler did not return to the game in the fourth quarter. Westbrook returned in the fourth quarter with the Thunder leading by 22 points in an attempt to record his triple double. The Bulls made their best run of the game with Bobby Portis, Felicio, Isaiah Canaan, Paul Zipser and Jerian Grant to get within 103-90 on a Portis tipin with 3:12 left.