Observations, news and notes from Wednesday night’s game………
* I knew Derrick Rose was good. The guy is great. He willed his team to victory tonight and had an answer for everything the Thunder did in the second half.
* Rose wrapped up my Rookie of the Year vote tonight.
* Russell Westbrook, who was closing the gap in the ROY race in my eyes, no answer for Rose when he got aggressive. Worse, Westbrook’s offense disappeared in the second half after outperforming Rose throughout the first 24 minutes.
* Meanwhile, Kevin Durant was everything Rose was not tonight. And, unfortunately, that’s been the story of the season more often than not for Durant. He’ll get his points, a game-high 28 tonight, but rarely have we seen him take over when needed like Rose did tonight.
* Nick Collison was the player of the game for the Thunder in my book. His 12 points and 13 rebounds marked his 10th double-double, and his hustle kept OKC hanging around much of the second half when the game continued to slip away.
* Despite Collison’s efforts, the Thunder got beat on the boards 44-31.
* OKC’s 13 assists tonight marked the third time in four games it has finished with 13 assists. What has happened to the ball movement and distribution?
* The Bulls were gaining momentum at the end of the half. Then Jeff Green’s stole Rose’s pass at halfcourt as Rose tried to save it from going out of bounds, leading to a poster dunk over John Salmons with 56.9 seconds remaining to put OKC up 54-51. The crowd got back into it. Ben Gordon missed a floater at the other end, and Durant his a buzzer-beater to give the Thunder a five-point halftime lead.
* The 21-10 Bulls run to start the third quarter put Chicago up 72-66 with 4:28 left in the quarter and turned the tide in the game. All the shots that the Thunder made in the first half were attempts that misfired in the second.
* Brad Miller torched the Thunder for 14 points, six rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes off the bench.
* Add Tyrus Thomas’ 12-point, 11-rebound double-double to Miller’s efforts and the Bulls had too many effective players on this night for the Thunder to compete.
* The Thunder’s bench, meanwhile, was nonexistent aside from Collison. Kyle Weaver, Chucky Atkins and Malik Rose combined for 10 points, ZERO rebounds and three assists.
* Thabo Sefolosha continues to excel on the defensive end. Three steals and four blocked shots tonight!
* How could the Thunder score 30 points off 22 Bulls turnovers and lose?
* I’m wondering the same thing about the Thunder’s 22-9 edge in fastbreak points.
* Thunder missed nine of 11 3-pointers tonight.
* A neat little Hornets reunion could be seen at halftime between Desmond Mason and Linton Johnson. Two points to everyone who remembers Linton Johnson played in Oklahoma City during the Hornets’ first year in town. Johnson walked over in front of the Thunder’s bench and the two chatted it up for the final six minutes before the start of the third quarter.
* D.J. White made his debut with the Tulsa 66ers tonight, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds, one blocked shots, five turnovers and four fouls in 32 minutes. He was 6-for-14 from the field.
* Shout out to Thunder Man, who sits behind my press seat. The guy has been a die-hard for the Thunder all season but lost tonight’s Ultimate Fan Contest. Nothing against any of the other contestants, but I didn’t see anyone else deliver teddy bears dressed in Thunder Man T-Shirts to television duo Brian Davis and Grant Long.