If there was ever a time the Bulls needed a win, this was it. Coming off a three-game losing streak, a shoulder injury that could keep Joakim Noah out as much as four weeks, and some locker-room turmoil with Jimmy Butler calling out head coach Fred Hoiberg to reporters, the stage was set for a Christmas Day embarrassment in Oklahoma City.
Instead, the Bulls turned in their best performance of the season. They executed at both ends of the floor and held off a late run by the Thunder to pull out a 105-96 road win.
The Bulls started the game on an 11-0 run and led by as much as 14 in the first half before a Thunder push shrunk their lead to two at halftime. A dominant third quarter by Chicago, in which they outscored Oklahoma City 32-16, gave them an 18-point cushion, making the Thunder’s fourth-quarter run less damaging. Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (26 points) were stellar, but none of Oklahoma City’s supporting players were able to get going on the offensive end. The Bulls, meanwhile, had a balanced scoring attack that included double-figure scoring efforts by Butler, Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson.
The Bulls will attempt to capitalize on this newfound positive momentum on Saturday in Dallas. The Thunder face the Nuggets at home on Sunday.