Bulls-Kings Preview

Sacramento Kings Status Check:
Record: 22-43
Division: 4-6
Conference: 9-28
Home Record: 16-15
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 115-113 loss to Milwaukee
PPG: 99.1 (11th)
Opponents PPG: 105.1 (30th)
Offensive Rating: 105.2 (17th)
Defensive Rating: 111.6 (30th)
Pace: 93.3 (9th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .486 (19th)
Turnover Percentage: .138 (11th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .707 (29th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .269 (14th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .211 (11th)
Opp. eFG%: .518 (28th)
Opp. TO%: .137 (16th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .233 (29th)
Leading scorer: DeMarcus Cousins (17.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Sacramento Injury Report:
DeMarcus Cousins: questionable (bruised thigh)
James Johnson: expected to be out (personal)

Overview:
The Bulls offense has been dismal as of late. The last time they scored more than 100 points came on February 22 against the Bobcats. There aren’t many free Big Macs being handed out at the United Center. Since the start of February, the Bulls have scored 100 points in two games. Over that same stretch, they’ve scored fewer than 70 points twice. Scoring in the 60s shouldn’t happen close to as much as scoring in the 100s. But on a given night, if the Bulls are playing a solid defense, it’s honestly more likely that they will score in the low-70s than sniffing 100.

It doesn’t help that Taj Gibson, Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich have missed lots of games recently, but if the Bulls want to hold steady in their playoff spot, and not drop to the eighth seed, they’re going to have to start scoring or just absolutely shut down the other team. As much fun as it is to speculate when Derrick Rose is going to return, this is the team that the Bulls have going forward, and these are the guys that need to start putting the ball in the basket.

Much of the blame goes to Luol Deng and Nate Robinson, because they are (somewhat sadly) the Bulls best scoring options right now. Deng is averaging 13.6 points on 39.7 percent shooting over his last ten. Robinson is down to 11.1 points on 33.3 percent from the field over that stretch. Throw in Carlos Boozer as well (14.2 points, 43.6 percent from the field) and maybe the Bulls are lucky to be scoring 70.

“We have to find a way to spread the court a little bit more,” Joakim Noah said after the last game. A viable three point shooter would help spread the floor, but that guy is currently hitting threes for the Atlanta Hawks (Kyle Korver has hit a three in 56 straight games!).

Perhaps tonight will be the game. The Kings post the worst defense in the NBA. In 14 of their last 18 games, the Kings have given up more than 100 points. Over that stretch, they are 5-13. Sacramento’s defensive rating (111.6) is ten points worse than the Bulls (101.8).

Chicago didn’t get to 100 when they met the Kings in the season-opener, but as least they got the victory. Joakim Noah recorded 23 points, ten rebounds and five steals. So he has clearly been doing everything for the Bulls all season long. Rip Hamilton dropped 19 points. So some things change. And Luol Deng went 3-13 from the field, for seven points. So some things stay the same.

For the Kings, Tyreke Evans tallied 21 points and eight boards, leading Sacramento in both categories. Evans is averaging 14.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in six games in March. DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 points but turned it over seven times.

Cousins could be suspended from tonight’s game because of a flagrant two foul he received for elbowing Mike Dunleavy in the head. He is leading the Kings in scoring this season, at 17.0 points per game.

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