Basketball: Rose and Butler stand tall to lead Bulls past Thunder down the stretch

Russell Westbrook (0) of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves against Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls.
Russell Westbrook (0) of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves against Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls.PHOTO: AFP

Chicago (AFP) - Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler combined for 55 points as the Chicago Bulls rebounded from one of their worst defensive losses in recent memory with a 104-98 win over Oklahoma City on Thursday.

The duo outshone the Thunders' dynamic pairing of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as two of the NBA's top ranked teams squared off for the first time this season.

The Bulls allowed the Thunder to tie the score three times down the stretch but each time were able to re-take the lead before holding them off in a thrilling finish.

"This was big," Butler said. "Derrick's a helluva player. He carried us.

"That's what leaders do. That's what MVPs do."

Rose sealed the victory by scoring 10 of his team's final 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Chicago were coming off an embarrassing 130-105 road defeat to Charlotte on Tuesday.

Durant led all scorers with 33 points and Westbrook had 20 for the Thunder who have dropped three straight games after winning their first three of the season.