The Oklahoma City Thunder came into Chicago for their most anticipated season opener in years and did not disappoint. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander picked up right where he left off.
The Thunder beat the Chicago Bulls 124-104 after pulling away in the second half. A couple of big Thunder runs in the second half helped them cruise to a win after a tight first 30 minutes.
OKC Thunder used a strong second half to pull away in Chicago, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dropped 31 points.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander picked up where he left off last season, scoring 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting. The Thunder’s star also finished with a team-high ten assists.
A big run for the Thunder near the end of the third helped them open up a nine-point lead going to the fourth quarter. Rookie Cason Wallace scored his first two career buckets during the stretch on his way to 13 points with a 5-of-5 shooting performance.
Isaiah Joe ended with 14 points and nailed a couple of 3-pointers to begin the fourth quarter to extend Oklahoma City’s lead. Oklahoma City’s shooting was a strength throughout the night as they shot 19-of-39 from beyond the arc. From there, Oklahoma City ran away with the game.
Chet Holmgren’s NBA debut was rocky. Holmgren finished with 11 points and grabbed four rebounds but failed to get any blocks in 25 minutes.
Holmgren’s roughest stretch came in the second quarter when Andre Drummond dunked on him, then stole the ball and used a crossover to send Holmgren to the floor and score again. Despite those issues, the Thunder outscored the Bulls by 14 when Holmgren was on the floor, and he made a clear impact in his 25 minutes.
Zach LaVine had problems against the Thunder’s defense in the first half, shooting 0-of-5 from the field and scoring all six of his points from the free-throw line. He continued to struggle in the second half and finished with 16 points.
His star counterpart, DeMar DeRozan, led the Bulls in scoring with 20. While the Bulls’ stars had issues against the Thunder’s defense, they had a balanced performance, with five players scoring 10+ points.
Jalen Williams got going early and scored the Thunder’s first seven points of the season on his way to 16. Williams also finished with a steal and five assists.
The Thunder will head to Cleveland on Friday and look to move to 2-0 as they finish their season-opening road trip.