The Bulls aren’t hiding from their record.
After Monday night’s 109-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, veteran Dwyane Wade won’t let them hide from it.
“Like I’ve said, we are what our record says we are,’’ Wade said. “I know everyone would want to believe that they’re somebody that they ain’t. We’re [.500] for a reason. We go out and play those games. So we are what our record says we are.
“Who knows what we’re going to end up at the end of the season. If we’re going to be a .500 team, if we’re going to be below it or above. But right now we are what we are.’’
What they are after the Thunder blowout is 19-19, as their three-game winning streak came to a screeching halt.
More disappointing than the loss, however, was the fact that the highly anticipated showdown between MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler never really had a chance to materialize.
Butler was fighting illness all day, missing the shootaround and a question mark to even play. He gave it a go, but was nowhere near Butler level, as coach Fred Hoiberg finally pulled him from the game in the third quarter and they made the decision to send him home from the United Center.
Until that point, Butler was 0-for-6 from the field with just one point. He did manage seven assists, playing facilitator for his teammates, but considering he came into the showdown with Westbrook averaging 38 points per game over his last three contests, well, the illness obviously won.
“Appreciate him coming out and giving it a shot,’’ Hoiberg said. “It says a lot about him as a competitor, but he was really struggling obviously. They sent him home after we took him out in the third quarter, and he will not travel with us [Tuesday to Washington D.C.]. Shows the type of warrior Jimmy is to go out and try and fight through that. Didn’t play out as we hoped.’’
As for Westbrook, he didn’t disappoint. He seldom has this season. The guard finished with 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, lifting the Thunder to a 23-16 record, as well as staying in pursuit of averaging a triple-double for the season.
Hoiberg was asked if there was a player he could compare Westbrook to, and said he’s one of a kind.
“In a long time at least,’’ Hoiberg said. “In this day and age to average a triple double, that says all you need to know about Westbrook. He gets it done in so many ways.
“You have to try to execute the gameplan and get him to shoot the shots you want and try to slow him down.’’
Michael Carter-Williams tried, and actually held him to four points in the first quarter, but Oklahoma City blew the game open in the second, outscoring the Bulls 35-26, as Westbrook scored nine points and handed out three assists in his seven-plus minutes of work in that second stanza.
Wade did his best to try and carry the Bulls offense with Butler down, as the veteran went 7-for-16 from the field for 22 points. He just didn’t have enough help.
That will need to change Tuesday, as the Bulls will be without Butler and Wade [scheduled rest] against the Wizards.
“We need other guys to step up,’’ Wade said. “Now it’s about seeing how ready we can get in this quick turnaround.’’