Thunder
Bulls
109 - 98 Final - OT
  for this game

Thunder use OT to earn rare road victory

Jan 11, 2009 - 5:38 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Road victories have been few and far between for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. So rare, in fact, that until Saturday night, there was no "between."

The Thunder won just their second game away from home all season, taking off in the overtime period to stun the Chicago Bulls, 109-98, on Saturday night.

"This is a big win for us. We needed a win and a win on the road," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We played hard and we reaped the benefits; now we have to worry about the next game."

The team's only previous road win was a November 29 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Oklahoma City almost let this one slip away, squandering a slim fourth-quarter lead and failing to capitalize on a game-winning attempt at the end of regulation. But it remedied the situation in the extra session.

With 3:18 remaining, rookie point guard Russell Westbrook found Nick Collison cutting to the basket for an easy layup, snapping a 96-96 tie and sparking an 8-0 run.

"We made them take tough shots and we worked hard for rebounds," Durant said. "Nick Collison played great for us in the OT session."

Fellow rookie Derrick Rose finally broke the Bulls' mini-slump with a driving layup of his own, but it was the last bucket Chicago managed the rest of the night. Durant buried four free throws in the final 76 seconds to seal the victory, snapping Oklahoma City's nine-game road losing streak.

"We are pretty deep and have a lot of guys who can play," Collison said. "Young legs help when you play four games in five nights and it showed in the OT."

Durant led all players with 28 points and 12 rebounds but missed out on a chance to play the hero with time winding down in the fourth quarter.

After Rose misfired on a short turnaround jumper for Chicago, the last shot went to the Thunder, and they made sure to get the ball to their star. Durant curled around a screen at the top of the key and got off a clean 20-footer, but it hit the front of the rim to force the overtime.

The Thunder held control, albeit tenuously, through most of the first three quarters - thanks in large part to a strong presence in the paint. Their shooting was erratic all night, but they always were in position to follow their misses as they took full advantage of Chicago's soft and undersized frontcourt.

"We have to continue to play with with effort and hustle. Our guys brought it tonight," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "We didn't shoot great, but I can live with that when you play with energy and you hustle."

Oklahoma City held a 59-37 rebounding edge - including 22 offensive boards - and piled up 34 free-throw attempts to Chicago's 18. Durant, Westbrook and Jeff Green grabbed 12 rebounds apiece.

"We just got outworked tonight," Chicago head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "The bottom line is that they had 22 offensive rebounds. We are not getting the body on people; they were more physical."

With the Thunder holding a one-point lead midway through the third, Westbrook missed an easy layup attempt, but Green was right there to pick it up and dish to Durant on the wing for a 15-foot jumper. The team added to its lead on its next two possessions, as Earl Watson found Collison for a layup and Durant for a dunk to extend the lead to 71-64.

"Defensively we are just not there yet," Chicago forward Joakim Noah said. "We turn the ball over too much. I wish I had the answer why we didn't have it tonight. Sometimes on defense we are just lost out there."

Joakim Noah's dunk pulled Chicago within two at the end of the third, and the Bulls pulled ahead by as many as five in the fourth.

After Green knocked down four free throws late in the period, Ben Gordon answered with a jumper to put Chicago back on top by one. Moments later, Collison drew contact inside but split a pair at the foul line to pull the Thunder even at 94-94.

"I am frustrated a little, but that's how things worked out," Rose said. "I don't know what else to say."

Westbrook and Green scored 14 points apiece for the Thunder, while Collison had 21 and nine rebounds.

Gordon paced Chicago with 22 points, while Drew Gooden added 20 and 12 rebounds.

"They have a talented team, but this loss is all on us," Gordon said. "It's as simple as that."