NBA Previews from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 19th
(All times Eastern)
CHICAGO BULLS (9-15) AT OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (20-4), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Thunder are off to their best home start in the
Oklahoma City era and hope to extend the impressive run Thursday versus the
Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder have won the first 12 games as the host and they're the only
unbeaten team at home this season. They have won seven in a row overall,
averaging 110.3 points per game in that span, and 15 of the last 16 games,
including Tuesday's 105-93 triumph at Denver.
Russell Westbrook almost posted a triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds
and eight assists, while Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer with 28.6 ppg,
finished with a game-best 30 points. Durant has scored at least 28 points in
six of OKC's seven straight wins.
Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who
shot 48.9 percent and used a 14-2 run to grab an 18-point advantage. The
Thunder equaled the second best start to a season in franchise history, while
the Seattle SuperSonics kicked off the 1993-94 campaign 21-3.
"I thought our offense was really good," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
"We were really patient. We executed in the halfcourt. Russell did a
phenomenal job leading the group to start the game and finish the game."
The Thunder, who are fourth in the NBA with 105.6 ppg and have the best
winning percentage in the league (.833), last started a season 13-0 at home
back in 1976-77.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will close out their quick road trip and are coming off
Wednesday's 109-94 loss to Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Howard had
23 points, while James Harden and Chandler Parsons both added 19 in the win.
Chicago was led by Jimmy Butler's 20 points and Luol Deng netted 18. Carlos
Boozer and Taj Gibson scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, for the Bulls,
losers in three straight and 12 of the last 15 games.
"When you lose, it's not fun, but we have to keep battling," said Bulls center
Joakim Noah, who had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Bulls fell to just 3-10 away from home and are averaging 91.3 points per
game. However, the Bulls are one of the top defensive units in the NBA,
allowing just 93.1 ppg.
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich has missed the last three games with a back issue and
is questionable for Thursday. He took over the point guard spot when Derrick
Rose underwent another knee procedure.
Chicago lost both meetings with Oklahoma City last season and six of the past
nine matchups between the teams.
The Bulls have lost three in a row in the OKC.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (20-5) AT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (14-12), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs have reached the end of a western
road trip and will try to maintain their recent dominance over the Golden
State Warriors Thursday at Oracle Arena.
The Spurs are 2-1 on the trip and defeated the Warriors, 76-74, back on Nov. 8
in the Alamo City behind Tony Parker, who scored his team's final seven points
and finished with 18. San Antonio has won 18 of its last 20 meetings with the
Warriors and eight of 12 trips to Oakland.
Parker missed Wednesday's 108-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns because of a
shin contusion and could miss Thursday's contest. Manu Ginobili scored a game-
high 24 points, Tim Duncan had 17 and 13 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard netted 14
points in the win, the Spurs' fifth in the last six games.
San Antonio, which rebounded from Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers,
is 11-3 as the visitor and scored 25 points off 19 Phoenix turnovers. The
Spurs also ended the Suns' five-game winning streak.
"We played defense in the second half," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "We
gave up 58 points in the first half and we can't win games like that because
we're not going to score 100 and 155 and that sort of thing."
The Spurs' bench outscored the Suns reserves 58-29.
Ginobili is averaging 16.5 points per game in his last four, while Duncan has
registered five straight double-doubles. After visiting the Warriors, San
Antonio will return home for three games versus Oklahoma City, Toronto and
Golden State was able to get back on track with its 104-93 win versus the New
Orleans Pelicans Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand.
Steph Curry scored 28 points and dished out 12 assists to lead the charge. He
has scored at least 20 points in 11 straight games, the longest active streak
in the league. Curry, who made 11-of-19 shots from the field versus New
Orleans, is averaging 30.8 points per game in his last five contests.
David Lee added 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Warriors, while Klay
Thompson and Marreese Speights tallied 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Golden State versatile forward Andre Iguodala returned to the lineup after
missing 12 games with a hamstring injury, finishing with two points in 17
"It felt good. I got tired of watching," Iguodala said. "You get a new
appreciation for the game, especially seeing your brothers struggle. Tonight
was a great game by everyone, just to get a win and put together a string of
good basketball the way we did the first three quarters."
Lee has posted a double-double in six straight games for Golden State, which
is 8-3 at home and will close the residency Saturday versus Kobe Bryant and
the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors and Spurs are averaging nearly the same amount on offense, as San
Antonio is scoring on a 103.1 ppg clip and Golden State is averaging 103.0
ppg. San Antonio is a better defensive team, however, allowing 94.4 ppg to
Golden State's 100.2 ppg.
12/19 11:48:30 ET