Plagued by injuries, the Chicago Bulls came out flat, and in turn were handed their ugliest loss of the season. Despite injuries, the Bulls fell to the Sacramento Kings without Demarcus Cousins 121-79. The Bulls came out flat from the start, allowing 36 points in the first quarter, despite the Kings not having arguably their best player.
Starting with the stale first quarter, the Bulls continued to give up easy transition baskets to Kings star Tyreke Evans and starting point guard Isaiah Thomas. Neither of these matchups were favorable to the Kings, who ran simple isolations and one-on-one matchups to their advantage. Bulls point guard Nate Robinson was no match for Thomas, despite not giving up any size for once this season.
The Sacramento Kings frontcourt dominated the Bulls, shooting an astonishing 19-of-27, with Evans going 11-of-13 on the night. As a team, the Kings dominated the Bulls in every facet of the game. Spreading the floor and running out to plenty of fast-breaks from long rebounds off missed Bulls jump shots, the sluggish and tired Bulls stood no chance.
For the Kings, a NBA franchise struggling with identity and in limbo on its future location, this shocking victory creates more questions on the future of Cousins than it does answers.
On the Bulls side of the court, this loss had an all-too-familiar look. The Bulls have lost four of their last five games, with their only win in that stretch coming over the lowly Utah Jazz by one point. Once again being out-hustled and injured, this tired Bulls team does not look like a playoff team, regardless of seeding, and continues to worry its loyal fan base.
The Bulls where without starting point guards Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, as well as starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton and backup power forward Taj Gibson. This year, the Bulls are 6-14 without Hinrich, and coach Tom Thibodeau ensured the media that he would do everything to make the Bulls come out with more energy in their next game, coming up Friday against the Golden State Warriors.
Yet, the current slump is absolutely an indirect result of Thibodeau’s coaching style. The Bulls are struggling with depth because of these injuries, yet Thibodeau has been adamant this whole year about giving starters huge minutes. Now, the team is paying the price. A majority of the team has gone cold during the most important run of the season.
Starting power forward Carlos Boozer had the most successful night for the Bulls, scoring 26 points on 75 percent shooting, while the inconsistent Robinson helped with 19 points. However, shooters Marco Belinelli and Luol Deng went a combined 5-21 shooting, while the team continued to struggle immensely from 3-point distance, shooting 2-21 tonight.
This was another abysmal performance by the Bulls, whose decline continues with the imminent return of Rose. Frankly, when looking at the score and stats, the team that is 20 games under .500 played like the playoff team tonight.
Allowing 50 points in the paint and 27 fast-break points is not what successful teams do. Turning the ball over 17 times against a team that allows 105 points per game is not what playoff teams do.
And yet, the Chicago Bulls tonight did that. This does not look like a team poised to make a splash in the playoffs; in fact, it doesn’t look like one that belongs in the playoffs to begin with.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486