The Bulls were Saturday evening's beneficiary of the Kings being OMGAWFUL.
In the seventh and final game of the Circus Trip, the Bulls (9-6) came back in the second half to beat the Kings (4-11) in Sacramento, 96-85. The 4-3 finish to the annual road trip is the first time since the 1997-98 season -- that was the last of the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson dynasty combination -- the Bulls won more games than lost on the trip. Between 1998 and 2009, they had gone 10-61.
I did a lot traveling on Saturday and didn't take any notes during this game. Even if I tried, I couldn't have because the second half was a laugh riot of bad basketball.
The Queens are a very bad team, but they came out aggressive -- not settling for jump shots -- as the Bulls came out sluggish. The result was a Chicago Foul Machine that was losing the loose ball battles, giving up fast breaks, and not attacking the basket strong enough to finish or get to the FT line, losing the first quarter, 28-21, and going into the second half down, 57-44.
In the second half, the Bulls played more man defense against the isolating ball stoppers of Suxcramento to get more stops and began taking it very hard to the hole. The Kings went into their default foul machine mode. After every foul, they were screaming at each other and eventually got sloppy with the ball.
The tougher baskets got the Bulls to the foul line. The turnovers created easy buckets on the fast break.
The Bulls' defense completely shut down the Queens ability to run options on their one-on-one game and they started chucking real bad. The team rebounding created the flow the Bulls wanted in transition -- a fast pace where only they could see the floor.
The Bulls outscored the Kings 25-19 and 27-9 in the final quarters to manufacture win from the Suxcramento Meltdown Machine by eleven.
This epic ankle-breaking moment sums up the final quarter well:
The Queens' coach is sadly going to a casualty of this awful bench of whiny bitches in purple because the organization has a deeper commitment on paper with rookie forward DeMarcus Cousins than him. I'm a bit biased because Paul Westphal -- in my opinion -- coached the most special team in the 1990s to not win a championship, but he deserves a large share of blame for not having a disciplined team. He described their meltdown best.
"I thought that in the second half our defense was good enough for us to win the game, but our offense was something that was out of some horror book," Westphal said. "Two turnovers in the first half and 16 in the second half, it's just unbelievable."
- Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 30 points on 10-for-23 shooting. His heightened aggressiveness and Suxcrarmento meltdown had Rose holding back laughter at them and gave him nine shots at the FT line -- and he hit them all. He also finished with seven rebounds and assists.
After sitting out Friday's loss in Denver with a sore neck, Rose was a gametime decision and didn't seem significantly uncomfortable. Nothing held him back from going 3-for-6 at the rim and 4-for-7 within ten feet.... Except for getting blocked six times, but he didn't adjust from the highest percentage efforts to creating points on the scoreboard from behind.
He discussed playing through the pain after the game:
- Joakim Noah most noticeably came out sluggish, losing a lot of battles on both ends of the floor to the Queens' front court. He was getting mugged a lot without getting the calls and it frustrated him into a technical foul, but burned whatever that it is that needs to be fired up beyond comprehension for him to perform well.
He finished with 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting and went 7-for-8 from the FT line. Only six rebounds in a game where he wasn't positioning himself consistently in opportunistic spots against a team that crashes the boards more then most on their offensive end. His five assists, four steals, and two blocks were reflections of his elevated hustle and alertness.
There was a ton of Noahface in this game on TV, but I couldn't find pictures. There was OMGENERGYFACE!, WTFREFFACE?!?, and suicidalface. But -- if you can't tell by every recent game recap -- I'm incredibly impressed with how he's improved his court vision and passing, so I'll share this basketball I.Q.:
- Luol Deng scored a sloppy 22 in an overall sloppy game by both teams, thanks to going 2-for-4 on threes and staying aggressive to shoot 10-for-14 from the FT line. Usually those two lines will produce more, but he was only 5-for-13 from the field.
- Taj Gibson scored a strong nine points with some adjustments. He wasn't as slow as in Denver, but isn't still crashing the boards well. His aggressiveness resulted in five fouls that held him to 19 minutes. It was good to see his shot keep falling, though.
- Ronnie Brewer was the biggest energy spark behind Rose's efficiency and Noah's persistence. His 34 minutes were needed, as were the ten rebounds he grabbed, the eight points he scored on 4-for-9 shooting.
- Kyle Korver's getting very good at using hustle to compensate for a lack of athleticism on defense. He scored eight points on a 4-for-8 shooting that had him going out of his normal game to create for himself along the baseline and at the high post, only shooting one three. Suxcramento doesn't run many screens or move the ball very well, so Korver used the advantage of seeing the action better and grabbed five rebounds.
Neither team shot well. The Bulls shot 42.9% on 33-for-77 shooting and the Queens 40.8% on 33-for-81 shooting. Suxcramento didn't get to the FT line (21% FTR, 14-for-17, 82.4%) anywhere near as much to have the Bulls' 27-for-33 night (42.9% FTR, 81.9%) in a game where their meltdown included getting out-rebound by Chicago, 44-43.
The Bulls took better care of the basketball than earlier in the month with only 12 turnovers while forcing the majority of the Queens' 18 turnovers -- that included shot clock violations, travels, lane violations, as well as boneheaded passing.
Ugly game that provided a lot of laughs. I'm never shy to criticize the Bulls, but I have to say that the best teams in league have bad nights and find wins out of them by pressing the other team's biggest weaknesses into creating more opportunities to use their own strengths.
The Bulls have three days without games before playing the first home game after the Circus Trip against the Orlando Magic (12-4). There is "quiet optimism" that Carlos Boozer will make his Bulls debut in that game. Pretty sure he hasn't missed a game this season or pre-season to very actively cheer on the side. What that amounts to in terms of wins and losses, I don't know, but damn it makes this team much the more lovable:
Advanced Stats via Hoopdata.