George, Westbrook lead Thunder past Bulls 121-96
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Paul George scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the final five minutes of the first half and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled to a 121-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
George’s scoring outburst came in the final 4:47 of the second quarter as Oklahoma City outscored the Bulls 23-7 and built a 64-44 lead by the break. He scored just one point in the second half.
Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis had 16 points apiece to lead Chicago. Markkanen adding 15 rebounds.
Westbrook secured the triple-double by threading a pass in the lane to a driving Hamidou Diallo, who finished with a reverse layup as he was knocked to the court and fouled with just over six minutes remaining.
The Thunder sped into the lead with a 21-3 run that erased a 15-10 deficit. But the Bulls quickly reeled off a 19-8 run of their own and closed the gap to two points.
From there, the Thunder took control, building a comfortable lead thanks to George’s 6-for-6 shooting to close to the half.
The game was halted for several minutes with 4:27 left in the second quarter after a melee broke out near the Thunder bench when Chicago’s Cameron Payne fouled Terrance Ferguson and, nearly simultaneously, Westbrook and Kris Dunn exchanged pushes.
Eventually the shoving matches spilled into the front row between the bench and the scorer’s table, with Robin Lopez and Jerami Grant locking up.
Eventually, Westbrook and Grant were assessed technical fouls for Oklahoma City, while Dunn and Lopez were whistled for technicals for the Bulls.
Bulls: Jabari Parker, who didn’t play in Saturday’s win over San Antonio after falling out of the rotation, missed the game with a stomach illness. . The Bulls turned the ball over 11 times in the first half. . Robin Lopez’s ejection with two third-quarter technicals was the ninth of his career and the first of this season.
Thunder: Paul George’s second quarter gave him double-figure scoring in one quarter for the eighth time in seven games. . The Thunder shot 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc in the second quarter and outscored Chicago 33-22. . Russell Westbrook and George are Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in steals per game. Westbrook had five Monday, while George added three.
THUNDER PICK UP DONOVAN’S OPTION
Before the game, the Thunder exercised its fifth-year option on the contract of head coach Billy Donovan.
Donovan is in his fourth season with Oklahoma City, going 169-106, with playoff appearances in his first three seasons.
“I’m grateful, appreciative and thankful for Mr. (Clay) Bennett and Sam (Presti),” Donovan said before the game, referencing the Thunder’s chairman and general manager. “I get a chance to coach a great group of guys. I’ve had incredible support from Sam and the people inside the organization.”
Bulls: Home against Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Thunder: At Sacramento on Wednesday.
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