Their season-high three-game losing streak is in the past and the Oklahoma City Thunder look to start a new winning trend when they continue a three-game homestand Sunday versus the Chicago Bulls.
The Thunder put the brakes on the skid with Friday's 127-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as Russell Westbrook made 13-of-22 shots en route to a season-best 37 points, handed out nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
"We let him (have) a lot of room to maneuver," Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman said of Westbrook. "He's just too quick and too strong to give him room to go at the basket."
Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin scored 27 and 19 points, respectively, for Oklahoma City, which improved to 24-4 at home and is 5-3 in its last eight games overall. OKC made 9-of-14 3-pointers and shot 57.8 percent.
"We were able to get some stops and make those guys shoot over hands. We put pressure on them on the offensive end," Durant said.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's loss at Houston with a sprained right knee, managing 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting along with seven rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Northwest Division-leading Thunder are 6-3 at home versus teams from the Eastern Conference and will close out the stand Wednesday with New Orleans set to invade Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Chicago erased an embarrassing loss to Miami (86-67) by taking out its frustrations on the Charlotte Bobcats in Friday's lopsided 105-75 decision.
Taj Gibson scored 17 points off the bench, Luol Deng had 14 points and five rebounds and Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli scored 12 points apiece for the Bulls, winner in two of three games since dropping four of five. Carlos Boozer recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"We liked the way were able to bounce back after a bad loss," said Gibson. "Last year we wouldn't allow ourselves to lose two straight games. We need that same mindset."
The Bulls, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NBA with 92.9 ppg, shot 50 percent for the game and scored 21 points off 13 Charlotte turnovers. However, the Bulls are one of the top defensive teams, allowing 91.1 ppg, and will face an Oklahoma City squad averaging an NBA-best 106.7 ppg.
In injury news for the Bulls, guard Kirk Hinrich (elbow) has missed two straight and nine of 10 games, and is questionable for Sunday. Hinrich is averaging 7.0 points and 5.3 assists this season.
Chicago sustained a 97-91 home loss to the Thunder on Nov. 8 this season. Durant scored 24 points and led a fourth-quarter surge that saw OKC outscore the hosts, 31-19, in the final stanza.
Oklahoma City has won three of four in this series and the last two encounters in the Sooner State.