Friday, December 30, 2011

Bulls Outrun the Kings, 108-98

By Sean Mackey

After the lackluster performance Monday night against the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls revved it up to 11 for a win against the Sacramento Kings, 108-98. Carlos Boozer lead the way for Chicago with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Derrick Rose wasn't a slouch either, scoring 19 points and dishing out 8 assists. However, the real hero of the game was CJ Watson who came up big when Rose was in foul trouble. Watson tallied 8 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Demarcus Cousins lead the way for the Kings with an impressive 15 points and 12 rebounds. Rookie Jimmer Freddette chipped in 14 points. Marcus Thornton had 20 points and 5 boards. The Bulls improved their record to 2-1.

This was a refreshing win for Chicago. After the miraculous Christmas victory over the L.A. Lakers, the Bulls struggled against Golden State on Monday night. It was one of those losses that just took the wind out of your sails. Rose was too focused on getting his teammates involved, shots weren't falling and the Warriors backcourt of Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry totally ran over Chicago.

Last night's game against Sacramento was a game the Bulls needed to win to get back into their groove. On paper the Kings look great, they have Tyreke Evans, Demarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and rookie PG Jimmer Freddette. If the Kings choose to keep their young studs, they might have a decent playoff team in a few years. However, the Kings couldn't catch up with the Bulls who ran almost the entire game and played some fantastic defense in stretches when they weren't fouling. Unfortunately, I doubt the Bulls will be able to repeat the running they did last night for the remaining 63 games. I was pretty surprised to see how well Rip Hamilton was running the floor last night. He had an ideal game for his role on the team with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Rose was back into his MVP mode, just slicing and maneuvering around whatever the defense threw at him. I think Rose knows that he's going to have to continue to shoulder the load on this team and it's not going to be as easy as last season was.

The Bulls kind of snuck up on everyone as a sleeper in the east and ended up with the leagues best record. Every team now knows that Chicago means business but they still have many holes in their game. It's easy to say that the lock down defense and Derrick Rose were enough last year but one forgotten factor is missing and that's the outstanding play of Kurt Thomas. Thomas was the enforcer on the Bulls last year and was able to step into either the PF or C position at any time and played solidly the entire season. Osik and Taj both foul way too much and are still pretty soft. Hopefully the Bulls front court will start playing a little smarter or maybe they could find a free agent who could slide in and take the Kurt Thomas role.

The Bulls play again tonight against the Los Angeles (Lob City) Clippers to a national television audience at 10:30 p.m. on NBATV. The Bulls need to replicate their performance last night in tonight's game against this fast paced Clipper offense.