CHICAGO — Oklahoma City went to Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter. Chicago was missing its best closer, so all the Bulls had to pitch in.
Durant and Co. were just too much to overcome.
The NBA scoring champion had eight of his 24 points in the final period and the Thunder beat the Bulls 97-91 on Thursday night.
“It was one of those games you have to grind out,” Durant said. “We’ve been through so many. We know what it takes.”
Durant iced the game with an off-balance jumper off one foot with 35.1 seconds to play. He added another jumper a few seconds later and then finished off his game-ending spree with a couple of free throws.
Oklahoma City outscored Chicago 31-19 in the fourth quarter, overcoming a six-point deficit.
“That’s winning time, fourth quarter,” Durant said. “In the fourth quarter we really turned it up a lot. But if you want to be a really good team you’ve got to do that from the beginning of the game.”
Serge Ibaka scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half, and had a team-high nine rebounds for the Thunder, who beat the Bulls for the third time in their last four games at Chicago. Russell Westbrook finished with 16 points and 12 assists.
“I told (Durant) be aggressive, just be aggressive, especially in the fourth quarter,” Westbrook said. “It was his time. Everybody knows that’s his time. He took his time and got the shots he needed.”
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 27 points, and Richard Hamilton added 20 points and eight rebounds. Joakim Noah had nine points, 13 rebounds and a team-high six assists.
“Overall, I thought we played hard but we turned the ball over a lot,” Noah said. “(Durant) hit some really tough shots.”
Hamilton made a tying jumper with 2:52 to play, but then Durant took over, making a floater from the top of the key over Deng to keep the Bulls at bay.