Game Recap: Thunder @ Bulls – 10/25/23

OKC 124   CHI 104

What a mess! In the words of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, “Boy, do I hate being right all the time.” The Bulls talked all offseason about updating the offense. Specifically:

  • Create more open 3s by getting into the paint and “getting 2 on the ball.”
  • Less Catch & Hold
  • Less ISO
  • More offensive run through Vuc in the high post or FT line extended
  • More catch and shoot opportunities via off ball movement & cutting

I loved what I was hearing. Excited to see the changes implemented. No more head-scratchingly poor shot selection by Zach, or motorless Pat, or Hero-Ball Demar. Enter a modern offense, with scoring threats everywhere; where defenses can’t turn their heads for a split second; where Pace & Space and Run & Gun are celebrated; where 3 pointers are the objective and not the alternative.

Well, we’re 0 for everything after Game 1. Here’s what I saw:


  • Though he shot 3 of them, Demar passed up multiple 3pt attempts. He’s going to have to be willing to take them, even if it torpedoes his overall FG%.
  • He showed pretty good chemistry with Vuc, with solid pocket passes and PnR actions
  • He was attacked on defense by OKC, especially with off-the-ball screening. Opening play, he got caught on a screen leading to JDub’s open 3 to start the game. In the 2nd quarter, as soon as he was subbed back in, he lost Dort on a wide open corner 3. Later left Cason Wallace wide open for backbreaker open corner 3.
  • Aggressive getting to the rim in the first half, rather than settling for contested midrange Js
  • Bad habits:
    • When things are going bad, Demar resorts back into ISO 7 dribble possessions that, if defended reasonably well, lead to 24 sec bail out shots, which inevitably miss. These possessions are essentially turnovers.
    • When shooting contested midrange Js, Demar tends to fall after the shot in order to get a whistle from the ref. If he doesn’t get one, and if the shot misses, it immediately puts the Bulls D at a 5 on 4 disadvantage because Demar is on the ground out of the play and slow to get back.
  • The lineup to start the 4th was JC, AC, Demar, TC, and Dre. It was brutal. It’s essentially “stand-around-and-watch-Demar-ISO”


  • This one was ugly. By the end of the season, it may be Zach’s worst game.
  • He had 2 turnovers in the first 3 minutes of the 1st qtr
  • He had 4 turnovers and 3 (stupid) fouls by the 10:37 mark in the 2nd qtr.
  • Had multiple No-Pass-ISO-Possessions that led to missed shots. These are essentially turnovers. I call them the Lavine Special. Brings the ball down, dances around for a few seconds, gets a screen, but doesn’t go anywhere, continues to dance around, then resorts to contested step-backs.
  • Several times he fell asleep on D and got beat backdoor or got caught on a screen. OKC attacked him relentlessly.
  • On the positive side, he was able to get the the FT line 6 times, not that it negated the 25% FG% or the 4 turnovers, or the fact that he was completely outplayed by OKC’s guards


  • Frisky Vuc is my favorite Vuc. Only 9 recorded rebounds, but his tip outs and relentless pressure on the O-glass led to other rebounds for teammates.
  • He’s one of the best in the league at sealing his man in the paint, as he did to Chet multiple times tonight. Unfortunately, the Bulls are incapable of making a post-entry pass.
  • Excellent passing today. Only 4 assists, but fed several teammates for open Js that were just missed. Easily could have had 10 assists tonight.
  • He was solid defensively as well, with 3 steals, 2 blocks and several deflections.
  • He was the Bulls best player for the first 3 quarters
  • 5 for 8 from the field, including 0-2 from 3. He passed up multiple open 3s, clearly didn’t feel comfortable shooting them.
  • No idea why Billy continues to put him at the top of the key, where he’s not a threat. Vuc is not a long distance sniper. Have we not learned this after 2+ years. He’s so damn talented and can be dangerous in so many ways, why does Billy put him in the one place on the court where Vuc isn’t effective?
  • All the talk is about Vuc’s frustration in the 3rd quarter after being subbed out. It’s understandable. He has had to do the most sacrificing since he came here. Was the #1 option in Orlando, then comes to Chicago and becomes the #3 option who is being forced to play out of position out beyond the 3 point arc. And yet ignorant Bulls fans see him as the whipping boy because he’s the easy target. Well, Vuc isn’t having it this year. I was glad to see him stand up for himself. He needs to be a leader on this team.


  • Pat was aggressive early, but started missing jumpers and still seems allergic to the paint. He won’t be a scorer in this league unless he’s willing to get to the paint and get fouled. It’s that simple.
  • On the glass, Pat only recorded 3 rebounds. I bad habit he has is trying to snag the board with one hand only. I get it, his nickname is PAW. But my man needs to secure the rebound with 2 hands. Billy has to enforce them in him.
  • Coby was quite good throughout the game, though he fell into some bad habits late in the game, as did everyone else. When he’s under control, he’s lethal. But once he starts dribbling in traffic, he’s a walking turnover. He, Vuc, and Demar seemed to have pretty good chemistry.
  • Caruso, Carter, and Craig were a mixed bag. On offense they were fine, and they were able to turn up the pressure 3/4 court on the defensive end as well. But eventually OKC started to run them out of the building with their Drive & Kick for open 3 offense. 
  • Drummond had the highlight of the game with a steal and transition crossover that dropped the rookie Chet Holmgren. He’s one of the best backup Bigs in the league.

Lastly, give OKC credit. Even if the Bulls played well, I don’t think they could’ve gotten this one. OKC shot nearly 49% from 3 on 39 attempts. At least half of them were wide open, but still. That’s a helluva percentage. Furthermore, Shai has solidified himself as a Top 10 player. At 24 years old, he was by far the best player today. OKC has a good one.

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