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Vitals: Thunder at Bulls

Vitals: Thunder at Bulls Vitals: Thunder at Bulls

Originally Published: Jan 4, 2010 9:15 AM CDT

Dave Carty
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

Oklahoma City Thunder (18-15) at Chicago Bulls (14-17)
Monday, January 4, 2010, 7:00 p.m. CST
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Game 33 of 82

Anticipated Starting Lineups

Oklahoma City (Away)
Chicago (Home)
PG
Russell Westbrook
16.0 PPG, 7.3 APG
Derrick Rose
18.4 PPG, 5.7 APG
SG
Thabo Sefolosha
5.4 RPG, 2.0 APG
Kirk Hinrich
8.6 PPG, 4.0 APG
SF
Kevin Durant
28.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG
Luol Deng
17.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG
PF
Jeff Green
14.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG

Taj Gibson
8.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG
CNenad Krstic
8.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG
Joakim Noah
10.4 PPG, 12.2 RPG


Injuries
Oklahoma City: G/F, Kyle Weaver (shoulder, out); G, Kevin Ollie (knee, day-to-day); G/F, Matt Harpring (knee, out).
Chicago: C Jerome James (Achilles’, out).

Where to find it...
On TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
On Radio: Thunder Radio Network

What you need to know...
It’s been a sub-par season for the Chicago Bulls, putting heat on coach Vinny Del Negro to turn things around or face the unemployment line. After losing 13 of their first 20 games, the Bulls have started to show some horns, winning four straight and 6 of 8. The biggest problem for Chicago is finding consistent scoring. The Bulls have scored over 100 points just five times all season and average 92.0 points per game – 28th in the NBA. John Salmons has failed to carry the team as he did in the second half of last season and the team has struggled to establish any kind of long-range threat.

Oklahoma City saw its streak (five straight wins) come to an end against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, but Kevin Durant’s continued. Durant has now 30-plus points in his last seven games. It’s also been a good stretch for Russell Westbrook, who’s registered 10-plus assists in four consecutive games, getting double-doubles in three of them.

Who to watch...
It’ll be a duel at the point guard spot between two of the NBA’s best up-and-coming guards. Derrick Rose, last year’s Rookie of the Year, has gotten better as the season has gone along and will have to put the Bulls on his young shoulders in order to achieve success. Last time out against the Orlando Magic, Rose had one of his best games, tacking on 30 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists in a game where his teammates again struggled to score.

Until Durant cools off – assuming that ever happens – he is the player to watch on this team. He is entering uncharted territory now as one of the league’s elite players. Whether or not he can stay there so early in his career remains to be seen.
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