Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma City Thunder (-9, 195.5)
The Chicago Bulls have the second-best road record as they visit one of the top home clubs in the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Chicago’s 17-10 road mark trails only the San Antonio Spurs but the Bulls will face a tough test in battling Oklahoma City, which is a gaudy 24-4 at home. The Bulls are just 4-6 over their last 10 games but Oklahoma City lost a season-worst three straight games before downing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
Oklahoma City shot 57.8 percent from the field and matched a season-best for points in the 127-111 win over the Timberwolves. But the Thunder’s recent play on the defensive end remains substandard in the view of coach Scott Brooks and several players. “All five guys that are on the court have to be tied on a string,” center Kendrick Perkins said after the win over Minnesota. “It only takes one guy to mess up the whole thing as far as our defensive concepts.” Chicago routed the Charlotte Bobcats 105-75 on Friday one night after a woeful 86-67 loss to the Miami Heat. Oklahoma City defeated the Bulls 97-71 in Chicago on Nov. 8.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, WGN (Chicago), Fox Sports Oklahoma
ABOUT THE BULLS (32-23): Chicago reached 100 points for just the second time all month with the trouncing of the Bobcats. Perhaps more pleasing was that the Bulls had 37 assists on 42 baskets and committed just six turnovers. The Bulls had 27 miscues in the loss to the Heat. “I thought we played a great team game and we needed this game after (Thursday) night,” forward Luol Deng said afterwards. “I thought we didn’t play well at all (against Miami). It feels good just to get a win. We’ve just got to keep it moving.” Point guard Kirk Hinrich (elbow) has missed nine of the last 10 games.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (40-15): Guard Russell Westbrook had a splendid performance with nine assists and seven rebounds to go with a season-best 37 points in the victory over the Timberwolves. Westbrook was 13-of-22 from the field and made all nine of his free-throw attempts. “He had nine assists, that’s good basketball,” Brooks said afterwards. “The way he scored, he took a lot of good shots and had a high percentage. Russell had a very, very good all-around game.” Westbrook is averaging 27.4 points over the last five games. Forward Kevin Durant had 27 points and is averaging 29 over the past four outings.
* Bulls are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Thunder are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games.
* Over is 4-0 in Thunder’s last four overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Bulls’ last five vs. Western Conference foes.
1. Chicago has split four meetings in Oklahoma City.
2. The Thunder made all 22 of their free-throw attempts in the victory over Minnesota.
3. The Bulls are 23-7 when holding opponents below 90 points.