The Chicago Bulls have looked pugnacious enough to trouble the best teams in the East, but they never found a rhythm with the Oklahoma City Thunder in town on St. Patrick's Day.
The Bulls donned festive green t-shirts, but they shot just 34.5 percent and stumbled across the finish line in the 97-85 setback.
Kevin Durant led all players with 35 points and 12 rebounds, extending his streak of games with at least 25 points to 32 games. In the last 50 years, only Michael Jordan has put together a longer stretch (40 games). Russell Westbrook struggled from the field but nearly hit a triple double on 17 points, nine dimes and nine rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 15.
The Bulls struggled to find offense and missed 17 three-pointers on 22 attempts. Taj Gibson was the high scorer with 16 bench points. Joakim Noah approached a triple-double once again, finishing with 12 boards, nine points and nine assists.
The Bulls only trailed 47-45 at halftime, and they cut the deficit back to one point with 10 minutes left. Then OKC reeled off a 13-0 run to seize control and put things out of reach, making their sleeved hosts green with envy.
The Thunder ensure they stay ahead of the L.A. Clippers for the No. 2 seed. They continue their road trip on Thursday with a back-to-back against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls remain in the fourth seed and a game out of third. They have the distinct pleasure of visiting the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. The Sixers have lost 21 games in a row.