The Oklahoma City Thunder expected to see some familiar faces returning to town entering Wednesday’s game vs. the Chicago Bulls, as Former Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan and Assistant Maurice Cheeks signed contracts with the Bulls over the offseason after spending their past five seasons with the Thunder. In their return the Bulls topped the Thunder 124-103. Chicago had a two man wrecking crew in guards Zach Lavine and Coby White, as they combined for a grand total of 51 points shooting a combined 20-31 (65%.) from the field. As for the Thunder, there was a very even distribution of points, with five Thunder players in double figures, but the teams leading scorers Al Horford and Frank Jackson racked up only 15 points.
Chicago was in a rhythm from the go, specifically Zach Lavine who dropped 16 points in the first quarter alone. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander relieved this scoring outburst from Lavine, quietly scoring 12 points of his own in the opening quarter to tighten the Bulls lead to just four going into the second. The second quarter was full of runs as the Bulls strung their lead to 13 in the first four minutes in the quarter. However, the Thunder managed to dig themselves out of that 13 point hole, stringing together a 12-2 run of their own to cut the lead to just 3 in a span of three and a half minutes. Chicago fired right back going on a 18-6 run of their own in the final four minutes to make it a 13-point lead for the Bulls entering halftime at 59-46.
The Bulls took full control of the game in the 2nd half. Coby White scored a remarkable 14 points straight for the Bulls in the 3rd, pushing the game way out of reach for the Thunder as the Bulls piled up a lead as big as 27.
For the Thunder, this game was a great learning experience and opportunity for the players. Though they never held a lead past the first six minutes of the game, head coach Mark Daignault gave everyone on the roster a fair shot to leave mark, playing 12 of the 13 active players 10+ minutes. Thunder newcomer Frank Jackson was a bright spot on the team yet again, scoring 15 points on 6-9 shooting, with two rebounds and an assist in just 20 minutes of play. Al Horford in his Thunder debut also played well, with 15 points of his own along with 7 rebounds.
Theo Maledon, who had an impressive 20 point debut on Saturday, followed up with a solid game, tallying 11 points with 4 boards and two assists, there was a slip in production though as he shot 3-9 from the field. Moses Brown, who only played 3 minutes in Saturday’s opener, also had a nice game dropping 12 points on 5-6 shooting in just 2 minutes.
For the Thunder, they will have their shot of redemption against the Bulls as they will meet again on Friday at 7pm.