Russ And "Bruise Brothers" Lead Thunder Over Bulls
By Randy Renner
Thunder centers Enes Kanter and Steven Adams have taken to calling themselves the "Bruise Brothers" and at this point the Chicago Bulls would probably agree.
Kanter and Adams combined to pull down a whopping 29 rebounds, add in 11 from Russell Westbrook and you have the main ingredients for a 109-100 Thunder win on Sunday.
That trio had more rebounds (40) than the entire Bulls roster (33). Kanter by himself had as many offensive rebounds (9) as the entire Chicago team.
"Yeah, rebounding was a problem," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "We've been an excellent rebounding team all year but the last two games we haven't been."
Both teams were shorthanded and played like it at times. The Thunder are still without Kevin Durant of course and now Serge Ibaka has missed two straight games with a bum knee. The Thunder are just calling it "soreness" but as we know that can turn into something quite serious.
The Bulls continue to play without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. Neither team pushed a lead into double digits, the game was tied 12 times and there were a dozen lead changes.
Westbrook led all scorers with yet another superhuman effort, scoring 36 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. He missed a triple-double because he manged just six assists, but that was because his teammates couldn't convert as many shots as they had been.
OKC shot just 20.7 percent in the first quarter but finished at 46, thanks to a blistering second quarter when the bench ignited a fire and a solid second half.
"We knew it would be a physical game with both teams," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "But I like that we just kept competing. I thought our bigs did a great job with Enes and Steven coming in."
Kanter had another monster game with 18 points and 18 rebounds, plus a couple of steals. His defense isn't where it needs to be but it appeared to be much better against the Bulls today than it had been a couple of weeks ago in Chicago.
Adams, the other half of the self-proclaimed "Bruise Brothers" tandem, dropped in 14 points wile hauling in 11 rebounds.
The Thunder also had outstanding execution late in the game with Brooks drawing up a play for the redhot Anthony Morrow (11 points, 4-for-7 shooting).
"It was a good play that Scotty drew up in the timeout," said Westbrook. "There were two guys on me, I kicked to Anthony, trusted my teammates and he knocked it down, so it was good."
That 3-ball with under a minute to play proved to be a dagger that killed the Bulls hopes.
The Thunder now make the quick trip down to Dallas for their only road game in a nine game stretch before coming right back home to play Boston on Wednesday to begin another four-game home stand.