Bulls-Thunder Preview


The Oklahoma City Thunder have thoroughly dominated the Chicago Bulls over the last two seasons. Given the way both are playing heading into Thursday night's meeting in Oklahoma City, that trend appears likely to continue.

The Thunder (20-4) will be trying to extend the league's longest active winning streak to eight games. They're averaging 110.3 points while shooting 50.1 percent from the floor during their current run.

Oklahoma City is also the only remaining undefeated team at home, becoming the first club to start a season 12-0 at home since Cleveland in 2008.

Kevin Durant - who is shooting 54.2 percent from 3-point range and 56.7 percent overall during the winning streak - scored 30 in Tuesday's 105-93 win at Denver, his league-leading 12th 30-plus point performance.

"It's a good win," Durant said after knocking off a team that had won 10 of 13. "We came here and beat a team that plays well at home and has been playing really well since the last time we played them. Any win on the road is tough, so we'll take it."

Russell Westbrook also flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and eight assists. He's averaging 9.8 assists and 9.2 rebounds over the last six contests, giving Oklahoma City more jump in starting fast-break opportunities.

The Thunder scored 16 points in transition Tuesday and are averaging 19.0 over the last seven games.

"It gives us an opportunity push in the break," said Westbrook, whose team is 6-1 when he gets at least eight assists. "It gets us into our sets a lot quicker, it gives us an opportunity to play with a better pace, it gives me a better rhythm and it's good for our team."

Oklahoma City has won three straight against Chicago by an average margin of 16.7 points, including a 102-72 home victory on Feb. 24. Durant was just 6 of 19 from the field for 19 points, but the Bulls' shooting percentage of 29.1 was their worst in more than nine years.

Chicago is averaging 80.3 points while shooting 34.5 percent in its last three losses to the Thunder. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are a combined 15 of 48 for 41 points during that stretch.

The Bulls (9-15) haven't been much better on offense while losing six of seven, averaging 81.6 points on 37.8 percent shooting. Their offense stalled late in the third quarter of Wednesday's 109-94 loss at Houston, where a 15-1 run by the Rockets that period put the game out of reach.

Point guard Kirk Hinrich missed his third straight game due to back stiffness, but he's expected to travel with the team for Thursday's contest.

"We're losing, so mentally it's tough," Noah said. "When you lose, it's not fun but we have to keep battling. The games keep coming and nobody feels sorry for us and we can't feel sorry for ourselves."

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