Coming off a rough loss to Golden State, the Chicago Bulls headed across the bay on their 4 game road trip. The Sacramento Kings may be playing their last season in town, and this could certainly be the last Bulls game at the ARCO Arena, currently the Power Balance Pavilion.
All eyes will be on King’s rookie, Jimmer Fredette, who came off an impressive scoring rampage last season for BYU. He averaged 28.9 points as a senior and many experts were skeptical if he would be able to transition to the NBA. After a 21 point performance, the doubters are changing their tone, and the Jimmer-time NBA era is just beginning. You’ll either love this guy or hate him, but Fredette will likely be the NBA’s underdog equivalent of Tim Tebow for the foreseeable future. He finished up with 14 pts and made a few nice double-pump faders on the unsuspecting Bulls defenders.
The Bulls started off on a tear, working the fast break and running the score in the first quarter. The transition game looked much improved from the spotty floor communication that we saw in games one and two of the season. Thibs went to the bench and brought in the second stringers to give some starters an early rest. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Bulls maintained a 30-24 lead behind Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer’s much improved start.
The sloppy play returned in the second quarter with four starters on the bench. After four minutes of both teams exchanging sloppy play, the bench mob started to click and build the lead. Jimmer started seeing ghosts around the defense of CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer and eve Korver(yes, Kyle held his ground on Jimmer), turning his early hot streak into something a bit more rookie-like.
DeMarcus Cousins started a bit of an elbow game with the Bulls bigs. Initially getting Asik into foul trouble before the referees caught onto the trend. Cousins, who had a foul-filled rookie season, has shown a lot of improvement in the shortened start, leaving the Bulls to over-prepare for this matchup with a potential future all-star. For the most part, Noah was able to draw DeMarcus out of his element and allow Boozer and Rose to slash the lane for good portions of the game. Cousins did manage to draw a lot of fouls with his big body, testing the Bulls frontcourt depth all game long.
2010 NBA Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, was playing a very toned down role since missing large portion of last season with foot problems. He contributed 19 points in 38 minutes with a solid performance.
The 2nd half started with the Bulls playing flat behind the return of poor decision making by Rose. But after a mid-quarter surge, the Bulls returned to the fast-break ball pushing that we saw early on. Richard Hamilton did a good job of taking the King’s guards out of the second half, and provided the Bulls with some solid shooting.
After more foul trouble, the Kings made a big push to exploit the Bulls defense. Despite Rose, Noah, and Asik with 4 fouls, a big push from CJ Watson and Rip Hamilton kept growing the lead to 10 after 3 quarters.
Carlos Boozer might have statistically been the player of the game, but CJ Watson managed to break the Kings momentum on every comeback run. Booz finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, a block and a steal. CJ chipped in 9 assists and key scoring with 8 points. Rose led the team with 19 and 9 dimes in a salvageable performance. Brewer also made big plays, as the bench mob saved the day.
Bulls win 108 to 98 to advance to a 2-1 record for the season.
Another fun tidbit. The Bulls managed to shut out point guard, Isaiah Thomas.
The Bulls finish their California road trip tomorrow back at the Staples Center before opening at home against Memphis on New Years Day.
Next game: Friday, December 30th, Bulls at Los Angeles Clippers at 9:30PM
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