It's not a surprise that the Bulls lost to Oklahoma City, and the reason why they lost were a mixture of old and new problems. The old problems? The Bulls had no source of traditional efficient offense, few free throw attempts (and bad free throw shooting), terrible from the three point line, and no low post offense.
The Bulls lost this game in the fourth quarter, and up until that point, Derrick Rose was dominating for the Bulls. First three quarters, Derrick was 10/21 for 24 points with 4 assists and no turnovers.
Fourth quarter, Rose was 2/10 for 4 points with 2 assists and 2 turnovers. If it weren't for Rose's dominating brilliance through three quarters, the Bulls wouldn't have had a shot in hell in this game in the fourth.
If he'd been able to keep it up they would have won. However, I'm not sure Rose is the type of guy you can expect to shoot the ball 31 times and maintain efficiency all night long. Eventually, the Thunder just collapsed on him, jammed the paint and forced difficult shots.
The general reaction from the fans will be one of two things: Rose had 26/6/4, he's awesome, or Rose is turning into a chucker, he sucks! Well the truth was somewhere in between. We saw a glimpse of an absolute superstar version of Rose early on, and later on we saw a glimpse of why Rose isn't at that level yet.
Overall, while displeased with the ending, I'm happy to see how much more aggressive he's become and how dominant he can look at stretches.
After Derrick, the next big story of the game was probably the free throw disparity. The Bulls got to the line 22 times vs the 47 for the Thunder, and the Bulls were really whistled for breathing on a Thunder player wrong while the Thunder were permitted considerably more contact. There definitely appeared to be some serious home cooking in this one.
Like all games, many things could have happened to swing the outcome of the game, and a more fairly called game probably would have swung this one the other way or at least made it a wire to wire finish.
Luol Deng played solid defense on Durant most of the night and forced him into a poor night. Many will say poor night? Durant scored 30! However, it took him 35 possessions to get that 30 much like it took Derrick a lot of possessions to get his points, KD's game was limited to something the Bulls could have easily overcome.
Offensively, Deng played poorly. It was his worst three point shooting night of the year at 1/4, but he did continue taking threes and knocked one down, so I'm still pleased with that effort so far. He was 5/13 from the field, had four turnovers, and disappeared in the fourth leading us to make some of the general conclusions we've made about Deng in the past.
Joakim Noah had a weak start to the game, and the Bulls were getting beaten up on the glass, however, he really turned it on as the game progressed and finished it out with 18 points and 19 boards to go along with 2 assists, steals,and blocks.
This was the type of matchup that I said Noah needed to dominate, and he did. However, it simply wasn't enough at the end of the day.
Taj Gibson also had a big night. He got most of his buckets on cuts, fast breaks, and generally open dunks, but he looked explosive for perhaps the first time this season, which is another excellent sign for the Bulls overall.
C.J. Watson, outside of two terrible passing turnovers at the end of the third, looked fairly steady. He did a better job finding his shot and more judiciously decided between passing and looking for his own shot than in preseason.
Keith Bogans was steady, but unspectacular, about what you'd expect out of Bogans.
Ronnie Brewer was a train wreck offensively continuing his terrible offensive play with an 0-6 from the field. He seriously needs to give the Bulls something on offense to continue to play. Brewer downplayed a poor shooting performance in preseason, but it's not preseason anymore.
Kyle Korver ran around like a nut off screens the entire time he was out there, but the Bulls ended up spending a lot of time looking for him on plays that ultimately weren't open. I liked the activity, but the Bulls need to find ways to run Korver as a second or third option more so than the first option on the plays, so they aren't chewing up so much shot clock looking for him.
On the whole, there was a lot of good things that happened in this game, but there are no moral victories in this league. It simply counts as a loss. Against a non elite team or with slightly more fair referring, the Bulls could have come up with a win. It was similar to what I expected for the game.