Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored 24 points and led a fourth-
quarter surge that propelled the Oklahoma City Thunder to a hard-earned 97-91
win over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Held largely in check by Chicago's notoriously tough defense for most of the
night, the NBA's three-time defending scoring champion caught fire down the
stretch. Durant poured in 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting over the final 6:35 as
the Thunder overcame a six-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to
record its second consecutive triumph. Six of his points occurred in the last
minute of play.
"It was a tough 42 minutes we had and coach got us in a huddle and said these
last six minutes we needed to do better," said Durant. "I thought we responded
well to that, made our passes and found the shots."
Serge Ibaka added 21 points and nine rebounds and Russell Westbrook tallied 16
points and 12 assists for an Oklahoma City squad that outscored the Bulls by a
31-19 margin in the fourth quarter.
Luol Deng netted a game-high 27 points and Richard Hamilton finished with 20
for Chicago, but the Bulls shot 26.9 percent from the field over the final 12
minutes en route to their second loss in three tests on a current five-game
"We just fell apart that last quarter," said Deng. "We didn't do a good job
getting stops and we didn't play good defense, especially against Durant."
A matchup between two of the league's top teams from last season lived up to
its advance billing, with neither club holding more than an eight-point lead
at any point and the game tied at 87-87 with under three minutes to go.
Westbrook struggled with his shot throughout the evening, hitting just 7-of-22
field goal attempts for the contest, but blew past the defense for a layup in
the paint with 2:05 left to put the Thunder ahead.
The score would remain 89-87 until Durant nailed a clutch baseline jumper with
46.8 seconds on the clock, then scored again following a Chicago basket to
maintain Oklahoma City's four-point cushion with 19.5 ticks remaining.
A Joakim Noah dunk would get the Bulls to within two, but Durant and Kevin
Martin each sank two key free throws in the waning seconds to seal the
Oklahoma City entered the fourth quarter trailing by a 72-66 score, but opened
the period on a 9-1 run to forge ahead. Eric Maynor put up the Thunder's first
five points of the spurt, which was capped by a hook by fellow reserve Nick
Collison that gave the visitors a 75-73 edge with 8:36 left.
Chicago would move back in front just over a minute later, when a Noah putback
made the score 78-77 in favor of the Bulls, but the Thunder responded with six
straight points and grabbed an 83-78 advantage when Westbrook found Thabo
Sefolosha for an easy layup with 6:11 to go.
Deng hit for a three-point play on the other end, however, which ignited an
7-2 flurry that brought the Bulls back even when Hamilton made a pair of foul
shots with 4:16 left to play.
Oklahoma City carried a slim 48-47 lead into halftime after closing out the
second quarter on a 6-0 run. Ibaka, who put up 15 points prior to the break,
began the short spurt by hitting a pair of free throws, while Durant capped it
by driving the lane and scoring with 13.3 seconds left to put the Thunder
The Thunder were up 55-50 early in the third quarter, but Chicago would erupt
for 11 unanswered points to seize the momentum. A second-chance basket from
Kirk Hinrich during the surge put the Bulls ahead, and Deng followed with a
triple of his own before Hinrich buried a 16-footer for a 61-55 lead midway
through the stanza.
Chicago would maintain a six-point margin entering the final quarter.
Noah finished with 13 rebounds for Chicago, with Carlos Boozer pulling down 11
boards in a losing cause ... With Martin's 15 points leading the way, the
Thunder outproduced the Bulls 29-8 in bench scoring ... Oklahoma City also
ended with a 46-34 advantage in points in the paint and improved to 3-0 this
season when coming out ahead in that category ... The Thunder have now
prevailed in three of the last four meetings in this series, as well as three
of their last four trips to the United Center.
The Sports Network