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E’Twaun Moore lifts Bulls, who snap Russell Westbrook’s streak

Bulls reserve guard E’Twaun Moore couldn’t remember the last time he made a clutch basket to win a game.

“Maybe college,’’ he said.

He also couldn’t remember the last time he was asked to guard an unguardable player such as Russell  Westbrook.

There were a lot of firsts for Moore on Thursday, but his only concern was a Bulls victory.

Thanks to a career-high 19 points from Moore, including a clutch three-pointer for a two-point lead with 2.1 seconds left, the Bulls (39-23) beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-105 at the United Center.

“There are several options on that [last] play, and then you have to read the defense,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You’ve gotta trust the playmaking of the players who get the ball.’’

Pau Gasol received the pass in the post and passed to Moore when the double team arrived.

WATCH: E’Twaun Moore came from out of bounds to hit game-winner

“Pau made a great read on that because the defense collapsed,’’ Thibodeau said. “A lot of guys probably would have shot that, and he had the presence of mind to hit the open man and trust the pass.

“E’Twaun, you can’t say enough about him. You guys don’t see him every day like we do, but he comes in early every day, stays late. He’s always prepared.

‘‘It doesn’t matter if you play him two seconds in a game, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter; he’s always ready.’’

Moore took his game-winner against the Thunder (34-28) in stride.

“The last play? Pau in the post, and they doubled down,’’ Moore said. “I just made the open shot.’’

Westbrook’s four-game triple-double streak came to an end. He had 43 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“My job is to help us win games, regardless of what it takes,’’ Westbrook said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do.’’

Tony Snell had the first crack at guarding Westbrook and was helped out by double teams in the first half.

Westbrook had 17 points at the half but was only 4-for-12 from the field.

He finally broke out in the third quarter for 19 points against Snell, Moore and Kirk Hinrich.

“I’m not like, ‘Oh, triple-double, he needs rebounds,’ ’’ Moore said. ‘‘You’ll go crazy if you think about every little aspect. Just say, ‘I’m going to go hard on him.’ Play hard, make it tough, and the outcome will take care of itself.’’

Almost lost in Moore’s heroics was Nikola Mirotic (26 points) leading the Bulls in scoring for a third consecutive game. He went 14-for-16 from the free-throw line.

It was also the Bulls’ second consecutive victory without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

“That was a crazy game,’’ Mirotic said. “I really think we played great on both sides, defense, offense, and I especially think our second half was very good.

‘‘We demonstrated the mentality of our team. We just want to keep building.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com
Twitter: @suntimes_hoops