They’re streaking havoc
Rose scores 26 as Bulls reach .500 mark with 4th road win in a row
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder slowed the Bulls’ momentum once this season; the Bulls weren’t about to let it happen again.
They reached the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 22 with a 96-86 victory Wednesday over the Thunder at the Ford Center.
It was the Bulls’ season-besttying fourth consecutive victory and their eighth win in the last 10 games.
Derrick Rose, who has averaged 26.3 points during the Bulls’ winning streak, had 26 points and seven assists.
‘‘I told the guys in the huddle that we owe this team, and it’s gonna be a dogfight,’’ Rose said.
Oklahoma City had beaten the Bulls 98-85 on Jan. 4 to halt a fourgame winning streak.
Forward Taj Gibson had a careerhigh 15 rebounds and added two blocks.
The Thunder struggled to slow down center Joakim Noah and backup Brad Miller. Noah had 13 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks, and Miller scored 14 points.
‘‘When you go on the road, it builds character and confidence,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I’m happy with the way things are going right now.
‘‘Things are definitely looking up. Last month, it was almost like a disaster.’’
The road victory is the Bulls’ fourth in a row against Western Conference playoff contenders. They won Friday in Phoenix, Saturday in Houston and Monday in San Antonio.
It’s the Bulls’ first four-game road winning streak since March 26April 17, 2006.
They’ll try to end the seven-game road trip on a high note Friday against the New Orleans Hornets, another Western Conference team with playoff aspirations.
The Bulls (22-22) led 56-47 at halftime but allowed the Thunder back in the game during a rough third quarter in which Oklahoma City outscored them 19-12.
The Thunder retook the lead, its first since the beginning of the second quarter, on an 18-foot jumper by rookie James Harden with 1:38 left in the third.
The Bulls, though, held a 68-66 lead after three quarters.
They had several sizable leads but weren’t able to pull away from Oklahoma City for good until they went on a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter.
Rose sealed the victory with a slam dunk with 52 seconds left.
‘‘It all starts with Derrick Rose,’’ Noah said. ‘‘Derrick Rose is playing the best basketball he has played as a Chicago Bull so far.
‘‘He’s making the right decisions. When your point guard is playing like that, it usually leads to good things.’’
Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who came into the game as the league’s third-leading scorer, scored his first points at the 2:10 mark in the first quarter.
He finished with 28 but was never really able to get into a rhythm.
‘‘We just won four in a row; we just beat some good basketball teams,’’ Noah said.
‘‘We’re just a confident basketball team, and we feel like we can beat anybody.’’
Bulls guard Derrick Rose tries to avoid Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the second quarter on Wednesday.