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Thunder vs. Bulls: Tom Thibodeau knows OKC still formidible without James Harden

Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't buy that the Thunder are a lesser team without James Harden.

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't shy about singing the praises of the Oklahoma City Thunder leading up to Thursday night's game between the two teams.

Thibodeau told CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam that he doesn't think the Thunder are a weaker team without Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring with 30.3 points per game. Thibodeau rattled off a list of the players that Oklahoma City still has, including fellow Olympians Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and added that the "team is put together extremely well, they're extremely well-coached, so they're tough."

Thibodeau has a reason to be skeptical of the theory that the Thunder are headed in the wrong direction without Harden, who was dealt to the Houston Rockets in a trade that brought Kevin Martin to Oklahoma City: His team was waxed by the Thunder, 92-78, in the only meeting between the two teams last season. The game wasn't as close as the score would indicate, as the Bulls entered the fourth quarter trailing by 29 points. Harden wasn't a huge factor, scoring 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting while committing four turnovers in 23 minutes. Westbrook and Durant, on the other hand, combined to score 53 points.