CHICAGO -- The Oklahoma City Thunder committed 22 turnovers and won on Thursday.
The Chicago Bulls committed 20 turnovers and lost.
The Thunder can afford to make such mistakes because they have players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who can make up for them. On Thursday, the Thunder eliminated a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter and outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the final 12 minutes for a 97-91 victory.
The Bulls, on the other hand, have little room for error, especially against the NBA’s elite teams, without their own star to counter.
“Like I said, we have to sustain our defense and take care of the ball,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team fell to 3-2. “We did not sustain our effort, and we need to have low turnovers. That will put us in a position to win.”
After the game, Noah sat at his locker and shook his head as he thought just how close the Bulls were to knocking off the defending Western Conference champions.
“We turned the ball over too much,” said Noah, who had nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds. “It was a frustrating loss. We really had a chance to win this game. They’re obviously very talented, but a couple of our shots down the stretch just went in and out. Overall, I felt we played hard, but those turnovers definitely haunted us.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about W’s and L's. We got an L tonight. We got to learn from it. We always feel like we can play against anybody. It’s just frustrating -- you do one or two things differently and you win the game. When you lose by such few possessions it’s tough.”
Deng didn't think the Bulls were that far away from winning such games. He said the Bulls needed to play mostly the same, but just find a way to close out games. Four of their five games so far have been decided by seven points or less.
“You can’t be surprised when it’s a close game,” said Deng, who scored a game-high 27 points. “There’s going to be a lot of those games. You just got to be tough minded to win those games in the end.
“No one has to change the way they play. We just got to keep playing. ... We’re right there in the game. We got to have a better fourth. That’s what we normally do, and that’s what we got to get back to.”