Bulls storm past Thunder despite Westbrook

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 06, 2015, 11:29 AM IST
Bulls storm past Thunder despite Westbrook

E`Twaun Moore`s go-ahead three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining helped Chicago withstand another monster night from Oklahoma City`s Russell Westbrook in a 108-105 NBA triumph over the Thunder on Thursday.

Moore, whose on-court time has been boosted by the Bulls recent spate of injuries, scored 13 of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Fellow reserve Nikola Mirotic, an NBA rookie from Montenegro, added 14 of his 216 points in the final period while Pau Gasol and Mike Dunleavey contributed 21 points apiece for Chicago.

The Bulls notched their third straight win, despite trailing by as many as 16 and by 10 with less than nine minutes left to play.

All-Star guard Westbrook rode a streak of four successive triple-doubles into the contest -- the longest such stretch since former Bulls great Michael Jordan had seven on the trot from March 25-April 6, 1989.

Westbrook did notch a franchise-record third straight 40-point performance, pouring in 43. But he was shy of double-digits in two other statistical categories with seven assists and eight rebounds.

All but unstoppable early in the game, Westbrook connected on just two of nine shots from the floor in the fourth and turned the ball over after Moore`s three-pointer put the Bulls ahead.

"Just try to make him shoot tough shots," Moore said of the Bulls` strategy for slowing Westbrook. "He`s a great player. He was on a streak with the triple-doubles. I know he wanted it tonight, but we needed the victory."

Serge Ibaka added 25 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who battled to a 123-118 overtime win over Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Whether fatigue was setting in or not, the Thunder went scoreless for more than four minutes of the final 5:11.

Chicago scored eight straight points in that span to pull within 100-99, and Oklahoma City were still up by one, 105-104, with less than 30 seconds remaining.

After a Westbrook miss, the Bulls called timeout with 4.9 seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbounds pass to Gasol, the Spaniard made a quick throw to Moore in the corner.

Moore, with Westbrook bearing down on him, sank the long-range shot to give the Bulls a 107-105 lead.

On the Thunder`s next possession, Westbrook, trapped by Chicago`s Joakim Noah and Moore, accidentally stepped out of bounds and Chicago held on as the clock ticked down.

Gasol pulled down 12 rebounds for the Bulls while an energetic Noah scored four points with 12 rebounds and nine assists for Chicago, who were without former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, All-Star Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, all nursing injuries.

The Thunder were without reigning MVP Kevin Durant, while Westbrook played in a clear plastic protective mask for the second straight game. He had missed one contest after surgery at the weekend to repair a facial fracture.