The Bulls spent most of Sunday night in Oklahoma City trying to think of a number, between 0 and 20, that would represent an acceptable field-goal percentage.
They were below 20 percent for most of the first half, dipped again after a four-minute dry spell in the third quarter and, needless to say, were smashed by the Thunder 102-72.
After a fourth quarter of garbage time, the Bulls’ field-goal percentage soared to 29.1 percent, still a season-low. Nate Robinson went 2-for-14 from the field. Taj Gibson was 2-for-11 and Joakim Noah 2-for-9. Robinson got to the foul line enough to tie Luol Deng with a team-high 13 points.
The Thunder has one of the league’s best shot-blockers in Serge Ibaka, so maybe that was a factor in the poor shooting. As a team, OKC had 9 blocked shots.
One of the so-called highlights on the Bulls’ side came late in the second quarter when the 5-foot-9 Robinson tried to dunk over Ibaka. It didn’t work, but it draw a foul.
When Robinson knocked down both free throws, the Bulls finished a 9-0 run, with 7 points coming at the foul line, to pull within 46-36 with 9.2 seconds left in the first half.
Of course, that was enough time for ex-Bull Thabo Sefolosha to drop in a putback and 3-point play after Deng blocked Kevin Durant’s layup attempt.
Trailing by 13 at halftime, the Bulls started the third quarter with a Robinson 3-point play, then went scoreless for more than four minutes and let things get completely out of hand.
Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 23 points, with Durant checking in at 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The best news for the Bulls on this night was ESPN showing footage of Derrick Rose dunking before the game during an individual workout. Rose said last week he’d know if he was ready for game action when he could dunk in stride. This was a solo slam in an empty gym, not a 5-on-5 scrimmage, but it could be a sign that Rose is getting close to a return.
The Bulls have three straight home games this week, starting Tuesday against Cleveland.
As well as they’ve done without Rose this season, this performance was another reminder how lucky they are to play in the East. Against Western Conference opponents, the Bulls have been swept by Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis. They are 2-8 against the top eight teams in the West, with the only wins coming against Golden State at home and Utah on the road.
Kirk Hinrich missed another game with a sore right elbow. He’s now missed 10 of 11 games in February with the ailment.
“It’s progressing but not as quickly as I would like it to,” Hinrich said, according to espn.com. “Just taking it day by day right now and hoping for some improvement every day.”
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