A valiant road effort from the Kings. But even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls offense is a well-oiled machine that the Kings just could not stop all night. Sacramento fought back from considerable deficits at multiple points in the game, but the Bulls ball movement and outside shot making stonewalled the Kings comeback attempts. The Kings pulled within two as the game hit the final minute, but Kyle Korver iced the game from the line, and Sac started their six-game road trip with a 121-115 loss.
STOPPING THE BULLS – 52.4 percent field goal shooting. 9-for-19 from downtown. 24-for-26 from the free throw line. 33 assists on 44 made baskets. The Bulls offensive numbers are eye-popping. The Kings, for their part, did not play particularly poor on the defensive end. But the slightest misplays are exploited by a championship caliber team like Chicago. Leaving Korver to double a dribbler can’t be done in any circumstance. Fouling Joakim Noah used to be a viable strategy…until he started hitting his free throws (8-9 FT). Luol Deng served as the Bulls playmaker and their four reserves hit 17-of-25 from the field. Just not gonna beat a team when they go off like that.
THE NIGHT OF BOOGIE – DeMarcus Cousins (28 PTS, 17 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK, 6 TO) continues to impress with his relentless effort. Fouls were a problem for DMC against Chicago, but he also forced Noah and Carlos Boozer into foul trouble with his own offensive attacks. If there’s one complaint about Cousins, it’s his erratic play from the high post. He’s a great passer and great shooter — those should be his top two options from 18 feet out. When he goes to the dribble drive, it becomes a wild ride for the Kings. He often loses control, forces a tough shot or picks up an offensive foul. The big man needs to show a little more patience up top, or just pop that efficient jumper he’s got working right now.
VETS CAN’T SHOOT – When you bring in veterans like John Salmons and Chuck Hayes, you expect them to stabilize the floor and provide steady production on a nightly basis. But these guys just don’t bring that, particularly on the offensive end. Salmons’ brutal season continued in Chicago. The swingman hit just one of his eight shots, and the fact that Keith Smart kept him out there for 25 minutes was perplexing, especially considering Donte Greene hit 4-of-6 shots in just 13 minutes. Salmons was useless. You don’t expect Hayes (1-4 FG) to be an offensive juggernaut, but he has to finish around the basket. Hayes missed multiple point blank shots within 5 feet, killing momentum for the team and letting the Bulls pull away. Salmons and Hayes are both well under 40 percent shooting for the season. Time to man up or step aside.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Seems like something magical happens to Tyreke Evans (27 PTS, 8 AST, 8 REB) in the United Center when his team falls behind. Evans got that look in his eye, going hard to get his squad back in the game. Just not enough, but noticeable regardless … Marcus Thornton (23 PTS, 9-19 FG) had a much better second half than the first; hit a couple threes down the stretch that kept the Kings alive. But it would still be great to see him really take over a game like he did last season … No Jimmer with a case of food poisoning.