Though its longest skid of the season is in the past, Oklahoma City is not entirely content with the way it has played of late, especially at the defensive end.
Based on their recent history against the Chicago Bulls, the Thunder might have a good chance to get back on track defensively in their next contest.
With each team looking to build on a much-needed victory, the Thunder try for a third consecutive win over the Bulls on Sunday night.
Oklahoma City (40-15) snapped a three-game slide with a 127-111 win over Minnesota on Friday. While the Thunder matched a season high for points and shot 57.8 percent, they also yielded at least 109 points for the fourth straight contest. They gave up an average of 88.5 while winning each of the previous four.
The Thunder are among the highest-scoring teams in the league, averaging 106.7 points, but they rank near the middle of the pack in giving up 98.0.
“Offensively, I don’t think is our problem,” said star Russell Westbrook who had a season-high 37 points and nine of Oklahoma City’s 28 assists Friday. “We’ve just got to find a way to continue to get stops.”
The Timberwolves shot 53.5 percent in the first half before the Thunder held them to 42.9 percent over the final 24 minutes.
“We know we have 27 (regular-season) games to figure it out, so we just have to keep taking steps in those kind of situations and just get better,” said Kevin Martin who scored 19 off the bench.
“We have to get better. We know that. But we will.”
The Thunder have held Chicago (32-23) to 93.1 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting while winning five of eight meetings since the franchise relocated from Seattle. The Bulls shot a season-low 33.0 percent during last season’s 92-78 loss at Oklahoma City, their second straight road defeat in the series.
The Thunder shot 49.3 percent overall and outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the fourth quarter of a 97-91 victory at Chicago on Nov. 8.
The Bulls have dropped six of 10 overall since last winning consecutive games Jan. 28 and 30. Without injured star Derrick Rose Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league averaging 92.9 points, but it hit 50.6 percent from the field in Friday’s 105-75 win at Charlotte.
Taj Gibson’s 17 points led eight players in double figures for the Bulls, who bounced back after posting a season-low point total in Thursday’s 86-67 home loss to Miami. Chicago had six turnovers Friday after recording a season-high 27 against the Heat.
“It feels good just to get a win,” Luol Deng told the Bulls’ official website. “We’ve just got to keep it moving.”
Deng, who has shot 50 percent or better in two of his last three games, went 11 of 21 from the field and finished with 27 points against the Thunder earlier this season.
Chicago hopes to have veteran guard Kirk Hinrich back after missing two straight games and nine of 10 with a nagging elbow issue.
It’s also uncertain if swingman Ronnie Brewer will make his Thunder debut after being acquired from New York on Thursday. Brewer, who averaged 3.6 points in 46 games for the Knicks, spent the previous two seasons with Chicago.