Late 3-pointer propels Bulls over Thunder
Chicago, March 6
E’Twaun Moore finished off Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Moore hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left and the Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the Thunder 108-105 on Thursday night, ending Westbrook’s triple-double streak at four.
After Moore’s 3 put the Bulls up 107-105, Westbrook stepped out of bounds after taking the inbounds pass, not seeing that Serge Ibaka was open for a potential tying shot.“Just trying to get a good shot. I should have passed to Serge,” Westbrook said. “That was a bad decision on my part. He was open and I should have hit him.”
Westbrook had 43 points on 14-of-32 shooting and added seven assists and eight rebounds. On Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, he had career highs with 49 points and 16 rebounds and added 10 assists in an overtime victory over Philadelphia.
Westbrook was the first player to have four straight triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven in a row in 1989. The All-Star MVP scored at least 40 points for the third straight game. Westbrook wore a mask and a headband for the second straight game after fracturing a bone in his right cheek Friday night in Portland. He had surgery Saturday and sat out Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ibaka had 25 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City.
“He’s not happy that he scored a bunch of points and got a bunch of rebounds and assists and we lost the game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Russell is about winning and about winning only.”
Westbrook scored 19 points in the third quarter to help the Thunder take a 79-72 lead into the fourth. He split two free throws with 1:07 to play, and Enes Kanter rebounded the miss and scored to give Oklahoma City a 103-99 lead.
Mirotic made a 3-pointer, and Westbrook hit a jumper with 37.1 seconds left. Mirotic made two free throws with 28.9 to go, pulling Chicago within one. Westbrook then had an airball with the shot-clock expiring, and Moore followed with his 3-pointer that gave the Bulls the lead.
“The way E’Twaun competed on every play, that goes a long way,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said about Moore, one of numerous Bulls who guarded Westbrook. “I thought we had a number of guys step up.”
Moore got the chance to hit the 3 after Pau Gasol got the ball and the defense collapsed on him in the post. Instead of forcing a shot, Gasol read the play and sent it back out to Moore for the winner.
“I was aware of the time management,” Moore said. “I knew we only had four seconds (when the play started) and if he kicked it out, I knew there’s not much time left. I just shot it with confidence.”
Mirotic finished with 26 points, Gasol had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Mike Dunleavy also had 21 points, and Moore added a career-high 19. Joakim Noah had 12 rebounds, putting him over 5,000 for his career.
Playing without former MVP Derrick Rose (right knee) and All-Star Jimmy Butler (left elbow), Chicago ended its season-high seven-game homestand 5-2, winning a game that clearly meant a lot to the Bulls.
“It was great,” a beaming Noah said. “That felt so good. It felt really good.”
Despite another star performance for Westbrook it didn’t end as well for Oklahoma City after it led by 16 in the first half.
“We’ve got to close out better,” Westbrook said. “That’s my job.”