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Bulls Stun Thunder Despite's Westbrook's 43
By Mike Jasko

Russell Westbrook may have been the best player on the floor, but he was bested by some outstanding team basketball by Chicago as the Bulls beat Oklahoma City 108-105, a tough blow for a team still fighting to secure a playoff berth. It was not an MVP Candidate, but back-up guard E'Twaun Moore, who hit the dagger for the Bulls, a 3-pointer from the left wing off of a crisp pass from Pau Gasol.

 

Westbrook had put the Thunder up three with 37 seconds remaining on a pull-up jumper that followed a 3-pointer from Chicago's Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegrin rookie drew a foul on the next Bulls' possession, sinking both free throws. Following a Thunder timeout Westbrook airballed a jumper, forcing a turnover on a shot-clock violation, which set up the game-winner.

 

It was a fiercely contested game by both sides, with playoff implications looming for each of them. With the win, Chicago regains sole possession of the #2 spot in the East, with Washington and Cleveland right on their heels. The Thunder remain a half game ahead of New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the West, with Phoenix just behind them.

 

Russell Westbrook came into the game on a streak of four consecutive triple-doubles, something not seen since Michael Jordan's spectacular '88-89 campaign where he achieved the feat in seven straight games. Westbrook still had a fantastic night; 43 points on 14-32 shooting with 8 rebounds and 7 assists, but failed to keep the streak going. The Bulls, who were without Jimmy Butler in addition to Derrick Rose, were led by Pau Gasol who had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Dunleavy also scored 21 for Chicago, while Niko Mirotic had a team-high 26, including 14-16 from the free throw line.

 

The hero for Chicago, E'Twaun Moore had a season-high 19; his previous season high was 8. With their play tonight, Chicago reminded us that they can beat quality opponents without Rose. Even if he's unable to return this season, they'll still be a tough out in the playoffs.  

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