Sketchier than a criminal artists depiction and with more second chances than repeat offenders, the Bulls saved themselves from a slaughter at their own United Centre home last night. As they prevailed 108-105 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on throwback Thursday, with Basketball Buzz in town.
The Thunder may have been struck with Kevin Durant’s name being left off the Gameday program list (the franchise face was in a suit and what looked like a commercial for his signature kicks courtside), but they still had the unstoppable Russell Westbrook, face-mask armed. Coming off being the first player since untouchable, Chicago Bull Michael Jordan to record four straight, triple doubles with 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in his last video game performance against the Sixers.
In the Bullpen he hit forty again like a middle-aged couple buying the same birthday card for each other, year after liar. With what on the surface looked like a relatively quiet (for him) 43 (and with 7 and 8 too, was just statistical fractions away from another, fifth straight, triple deuce). Plus, even though the Thunder where the dribbling wounded, their training table woes where nothing like the Matador calmed Bulls ones. Put down by big injuries to big players, like Derrick Rose, whose season was just coming into bloom, Jimmy Butler, who won’t even be sweating buckets for awhile and bench heater Taj Gibson, who currently resides right at the end of it.
Still a team that has the frontcourt force of Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol always has more. Or should we say Moore? As with 2.1 seconds left, third year man E’Twaun Moore hit a beautifully set-up, perfect fade-away, clutch three against the man that has been making Jordan so proud as of late. Russell Westbrook then couldn’t get a shot off as the Thunder ended up seeing an umbrella in the Windy City after one point almost blowing them out.
Moore had a career game with 19. Picking up the available roster spot slack with former Euroleague star Nikola Mirotic (a Sabonis like rookie at 24 and seasoned with experience). The frontcourt was fire too, as Gasol gassed up a double, double of 21 and a mirror reflection 12 in what seemed like a siesta for him. While Joakim Noah Rod-manned 12 boards, hitting 5K for his career rebound total. In a night of breakout performances the 34 year old Mike Dunleavy Jnr turned back the clock with a forever 21 hung on OKC for this box-score, as he showed why he’s your classic, traditional Small Forward.
Still the most touching moment of this game came with the return of Craig Sager. The reporter with more T.V. personality than your remote could ever find returned to the sideline trenches after his long, hard fought battle with cancer. And as Benny the Bull presented him with a new suit (which the mascot also rocked in honour) to add to the wonder that is his wardrobe of smoking hot, suit jackets as ugly duckling beautiful as this game in-play itself, what could be more fitting?
It wasn’t the same without him! Craig this one goes out to you.