“I was on him,” Deng said. “He’s 6-9 (6-foot-9). A great player. Really tough shot.”
While Durant came up with some clutch baskets at one end, the Bulls had no one to answer with star point guard Derrick Rose sidelined with a knee injury that will keep him out of action into the new year.
“Derrick Rose is an unbelievable player, don’t get me wrong. He is Chicago,” Durant said. “But those guys are great complements to him. Once one of your best players is out, guys got to step up and that’s what they’ve been doing ever since he’s been out.”
The teams combined for 43 turnovers. The 21 miscues by the Bulls were a hot topic after the game.
“We have to sustain our defense and take care of the ball,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We did not sustain our effort and we need to have low turnovers.”
Durant was passive for much of the game and didn’t attempt a free throw until the closing seconds. He has had just one game without a free-throw attempt since the start of the 2010-11 season.
“I like Kevin to be a playmaker,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That is what separates great players from good ones. The 19 shots like tonight are where I like him to be.”
The Thunder put together a 7-0 to grab the lead with 8:34 to play. Nick Collison capped the surge with a layup off a pass from Eric Maynor.
Deng snapped the run with his third 3-pointer of the game. Deng entered the contest 1 for 11 from behind the arc. Chicago ranked last in the league in 3-point makes, attempts and percentage, but hit a season-high five 3s in the game.
“Lu provides whatever you need,” Thibodeau said. “If you need him to score more, he can do that.”