CHICAGO (AP)—Ben Gordon soaked his feet in a bucket of ice as he sat by his locker following a scorching performance.
Nothing else could cool him down. Certainly not the Seattle SuperSonics.
“We made it easy tonight with the way we came out,” Gordon said. “We were aggressive and attacked early. Games like this, we’ve just got to take advantage of it.”
It was the fifth win in seven games for the Bulls, who were coming off a 92-81 loss to Boston. This seems like a good time for Chicago to jump start a disappointing season considering Tuesday’s game was the first of three this week against teams with losing records.
The Bulls visit Indiana on Wednesday and host the New York Knicks on Friday. Against Seattle, they finally looked like the team many expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title.
They got open looks and, more importantly, hit them.
The league’s worst shooting team, Chicago converted 53.7 percent of its field goals—just shy of its season high of 54.3 percent. The Bulls led 67-49 at halftime after outscoring the Sonics by 14 in the second quarter and never let up.
The 123 points were their most in regulation since a 128-102 win over Philadelphia on April 7, 1997.
“It’s something we needed,” said Joe Smith, who scored a season-high 19 points. “We’ve been in a dogfight almost every night. For us to go into a back-to-back, it’s a chance to get some guys some rest.”
Sonics rookie Kevin Durant scored 16 points in 24 minutes, but he had no help.
The Bulls had plenty of balance, though.
Gordon immediately served notice that he was on target after a miserable performance in Saturday’s 92-81 loss to Eastern Conference leader.
He hit his first four shots and scored 14 points in the first quarter. He was 12-of-19 overall from the field, after going 5-for-20 and missing all 10 shots in the second half against the Celtics on Saturday.
Deng scored eight points late in the second quarter.
Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls finished with 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He did not commit a turnover.
“They picked us apart, moving the ball quickly and getting open shots,” Durant said. “It was hard to contain them. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng did a great job of knocking down shots.”
The Bulls got nine rebounds from Tyrus Thomas, who was active during an 11-point run that bumped a five-point lead to 51-35. He had a steal that led to two free throws and a block that resulted in a 22-footer for Andres Nocioni.
Smith, meanwhile, started the run with a jumper and ended it with a layup.
Deng scored eight points over the final 3:34 of the half, and Gordon ended it by flipping in a 9-foot floater at the buzzer, drawing a roar from the crowd.
“We scored close to 100 points,” Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We scored close to 50 in the half, and we weren’t even in the game. If you don’t defend in this league, you can’t be in the game.”
A 37.3-percent shooter entering the game, Gordon hit six of seven shots in the first quarter. He popped out to the wing for a jumper, hit a 3 from the top of the key and buried another shot from the wing in the first four minutes. He struck again late in the quarter, hitting another 3 from the top with 2:47 left. After missing a 3-pointer, he converted a driving layup and a breakaway in the final 39 seconds of the period.
“I just wanted to get off to a good start,” Gordon said. “It seemed like we had been playing inconsistent basketball for a pretty long time. Hopefully, we can just maintain this.”
Durant got to see a few Chicago sites on Monday, but he missed one landmark: the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center. “I wish I could have seen the front of the Jordan statue, but we rode past that,” he said. The Sonics arrived in Chicago after Sunday’s game at New Orleans. … Seattle G Delonte West missed his fourth straight game with right foot plantar fasciitis. … Seattle G Luke Ridnour scored nine points in just under 12 minutes in his second game back after missing 12 games with a left quadriceps injury… Thomas, who recently lost his spot in the starting lineup, played 20 minutes after getting no time the previous two games. … The Bulls had a season-high 35 assists. … Chicago shot 54.3 percent against Charlotte on Dec. 1.