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Game 25 | Thunder 107, Bulls 95

Bulls cannot weather Oklahoma City’s storm

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

There’s ice and there’s electrical stim and there’s massage and there’s ultrasound and there’s heat and manual therapy and soft tissue and joint work and muscle relaxation and all the conventional remedies for treating injuries.

But now with Jimmy Butler Thursday on crutches after a sprained ankle during the 107-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Luol Deng in a walking boot after sitting out with a recurrence of his achilles injury, Kirk Hinrich not quite in traction yet though out with worsening back problems, Taj Gibson playing through a right wrist injury in which he’s wrapping his arm like it’s being mummified after games and, of course, Derrick Rose out for the season with a knee injury, it seems like it may be time for the mosque, the church and the synagogue.

Noah’s a Jewish name, isn’t it?

“It’s part of it,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after the team’s 13th loss in the last 16 games to fall to 9-16. “I think that sometimes it goes against you.”

Thibodeau took a long pause as reporters waited.

“I don’t know what else to say,” he added finally.

Deng said he’ll be out until at least the Christmas Day game in Brooklyn next week and perhaps a game longer. Butler will get a full examination back in Chicago, though he also had pushed to get back with his turf toe injury on the same leg. Complicating that with a sprained ankle left him open to being out for a while. Thibodeau didn’t sound optimistic about Hinrich’s ongoing back problems talking before the game and his return remains unclear.

So the Bulls started Butler against league scoring leader Kevin Durant, who finished with the most casual 32 points you’ll see. Not long afterward, rookie Tony Snell playing 41 minutes had to take on Durant. D.J. Augustin, continuing to impress with strong play and 15 points and five assists, had to take on all league star Russell Westbrook, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists, though was not a dominant factor.

But overall the Bulls played one of their better games Thursday on national TNT, fulsome in its passion if not its ultimate goal. This hasn’t been a team for moral victories. But the Bulls did show promise from some desultory efforts in recent weeks with crisper ball movement and bolder attacks at the basket that led to 39 free throws (making just 29) and 20 assists on 29 baskets…


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