Lightning doesn't strike twice for feisty Bulls in OKC

 
 
Updated 12/17/2018 10:21 PM
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  • Oklahoma Thunder forward Paul George (13) shoots over Chicago Bulls center Lauri Markkanen (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

    Oklahoma Thunder forward Paul George (13) shoots over Chicago Bulls center Lauri Markkanen (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Associated Press

  • Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant, center left, scuffles with Chicago Bull center Robin Lopez, center right, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

    Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant, center left, scuffles with Chicago Bull center Robin Lopez, center right, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Associated Press

There were no repeat lightning strikes against the Thunder on Monday.

The first win of Jim Boylen's coaching tenure happened against Oklahoma City on Dec. 7 at the United Center. Boylen's second win happened two days ago when the Bulls rallied from a 21-point deficit to win in San Antonio.

In Monday's rematch at Oklahoma City, the Bulls fell behind by 20 points early once again, but the Thunder never let them out of the headlock, winning 121-96 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Paul George led the Thunder with 24 points, while Russell Westbrook collected his usual triple-double with 13 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.

Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis led the Bulls with 16 points each, with Markkanen adding 15 rebounds. Jabari Parker stayed at the team hotel after coming down with an illness.

The game got testy in the third quarter. First came a minor skirmish that resulted in 4 technical fouls. Then Robin Lopez was ejected for laying the ball in Jerami Grant's lap after committing a foul.

"You need the ball to shoot the free throws," Lopez told reporters in the locker room. "I thought the refs had done enough and I wanted to alleviate some of their worth. They had an abnormally large workload for the first half of that quarter. I wanted to help them out and ease their pain a little bit, ease their burden. I guess not everybody saw it the same way."

The initial beef was between Westbrook and Kris Dunn. While Dunn chased Westbrook through some screens, Westbrook gave Dunn an extra bump as play was stopped and Dunn responded with a shove to Westbrook's chest.

Grant came over to confront Dunn and Lopez took exception. Grant and Lopez ended up in the first row of seats, with Lopez losing his balance at one point. Boylen helped drag Grant away from Lopez once the Bulls center got off the floor.

Lopez, Dunn, Westbrook and Grant were all hit with technicals. The Thunder led 82-61 at the time, with 4:27 left in the third quarter.

The Bulls were within 39-37 midway through the second quarter before the Thunder (19-10) finished the first half with a 25-7 run and led 64-44 at intermission. The Bulls never made a run in the second half.

"I liked our start and thought we were in control," Boylen said after the contest. "They made some tough shots and we didn't respond well and the game got away from us. Their physicality was a big part of their performance."

Dunn, the hero of Saturday's win in San Antonio, produced 12 points and 7 assists. Cameron Payne was the other double-figure scorer with 11 points.

Two-way player Rawle Alkins made his NBA debut, playing the last three minutes of the game without scoring.

This game ended the Bulls' three-game road trip, which began in Mexico City with a game against the Orlando Magic. A number of people in the Bulls' traveling party fell ill on this trip, including rookie Chandler Hutchison, who missed the Magic game, and Parker.

@McGrawDHBulls

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