Thibodeau's Bulls won't take young Kings lightly

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Thibodeau's Bulls won't take young Kings lightly

SACRAMENTO -- Coming off a disappointing loss Monday to Golden State, with three days in between to prepare, Tom Thibodeau was subdued when talking to reporters after the Bulls Thursday-morning shootaround at the Power Balance Pavilion (nee Arco Arena) prior to the evenings contest against the Kings.

Dont expect his team to be as docile when they take the court. Thibodeau, who is as intense as they come, even in the context of NBA head coaches, was extremely chagrined at the Bulls effort against the Warriors, coached by first-year head coach Mark Jackson and not expected to be among the leagues elite this season, despite an even more definitive win Wednesday over the Knicks.

Thus, the young and deep Kings are poised to bear the brunt of the Bulls revenge, especially if the well-rested visitors return to last seasons philosophy of treating every team the same way, not to mention Derrick Roses pledge to be more aggressive from the outset of games.

"The thing is, every team in this league is talented and this team has a lot of firepower, said Thibodeau. Theyve added some weapons and they can really shoot the ball, so you have to establish your defense early in the game. Theyve always been tough to play here and theyre young, and theyve gotten better.

Its early. People are still ironing things out. The schedule is different. The Lakers already went through their three in a row. Bostons had a tough early schedule with travel, road games, he went on to explain. So those things do factor into it, particularly when you dont have your eight preseason games. But that being said, your urgency has to be great because all these games are important. They all carry equal importance. So this game tonight is just as important as the game two months from now. Thats the way everyone has to approach it.

Since falling out of the NBAs spotlight after being one of the leagues upper-echelon franchises the previous decade, casual observers might not be aware of whom Sacramento actually features on its roster. Well, while they dont have a true established superstar-type player, the Kings are a dangerous bunch with lots of depth.

Marcus Thornton is a very explosive scorer. Tyreke Evans is a tremendous player, said Thibodeau. DeMarcus Cousins is a very talented guy. J.J. Hickson is explosive off the bench. Isaiah Thomas is another guy who can score quickly.

The shooting is a big concern. Travis Outlaw, they picked up, has the versatility to play multiple positions. So, to me, its a very talented team.

Thornton, who was acquired in a midseason trade last year, was re-signed as a free agent after the lockout and pairs up with Evans -- like Rose, a former Rookie of the Year, as well as a John Calipari protg at the University of Memphis -- for a scoring-oriented backcourt, which also features the diminutive rookie Thomas, the last pick in the draft, first-round draft pick Jimmer Fredette, the nations leading scorer in college basketball last season and already a cult hero.

You cant give him any daylight, Thibodeau said of Fredette.

In the frontcourt, the explosive (as a player and person) Cousins is one of the more skilled young big men in the league and is complemented by the likes of the athletic but raw Hickson, a draft-day acquisition from Cleveland and Northern California native Chuck Hayes, a Thibodeau favorite from his days as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets.

Chuck Hayes is like one of those guys that get overlooked by everybody and all he does is help you win. Hes underrated, plays great defense, can really pass the ball, very good offensive rebounder, praised Thibodeau, who acknowledged that the veteran undersized power forward -- who had his free-agent contract briefly voided due to a health scare -- has similar attributes to departed Bull Kurt Thomas. Chuck is maybe a little bit different, in terms of offensively. He can pass and put it on the floor, and Kurt is the better shooter. But all the intangibles that they bring -- the physical toughness, the mental toughness, just knowing how to win -- thats what they bring.

But even the thorough Thibodeau, who often gives a mini-scouting report to the media (just imagine what his players have to endure) when asked about an opponent, left out some Kings players who could contribute. Former Bulls swingman John Salmons is back for a second stint in Sacramento -- leaving the longest-tenured King, fellow veteran wing Francisco Garcia, seemingly the odd man out -- and young forwards Donte Greene and Jason Thompson also factor into Paul Westphals rotation.

No, the list of players isnt the most accomplished or experienced, but as witnessed in Oakland, that doesnt always matter when it comes to the NBA. Thibodeau clearly understands that and its likely (through positive reinforcement, of course) that his players do, too.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

The Blackhawks may want to forget this weekend.

Their captain is struggling health-wise and the rest of the team is struggling in other aspects. That led to a point-less pair of games, something the Blackhawks haven’t dealt with often this season. Even a return home on Sunday, where the Blackhawks had collected points in 12 consecutive games, couldn’t help them.

Still, the show must go on. So before we trudge home in the slush, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

1. Jonathan Toews isn’t improving. The captain isn’t getting any worse but his injury isn’t getting better. That’s what coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the game, the sixth in a row Toews has missed with a reported back injury. Toews skated on Sunday morning but will not shut it down for a few days. That’s discouraging news, especially for Toews. You could hear the frustration in Toews’ voice when he talked following Friday’s practice. It’s likely growing.

2. Scott Darling did all he could. We could have “goaltending buoys the Blackhawks” on a save/get key this season. It was true again on Sunday as Darling was stellar in stopping 30 of 32 shots. The Blackhawks have gone through their troubles this season but goaltending hasn’t been one of them. Darling will take the bulk of the work while Corey Crawford is sidelined. If he plays the way he did on Sunday night, the Blackhawks won’t have to worry about that part of their game.

3. Little generated again. Both teams played on Saturday but the Blackhawks were the ones really looking lackluster on Sunday night. The Blackhawks once again didn’t have many great scoring opportunities; through two periods, you could count their quality shots on one hand. They woke up some in the third period but not enough.

4. Second line drawing all the attention? OK, again, right now Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are the Blackhawks’ top line. And with that, the trio has become the prime target of attention for the opposition. Other lines have had opportunities but these are not the balanced Blackhawks teams of previous seasons. That second line is what did the bulk of the damage last season, and teams are focusing on it –  and being more successful against it – this season.

5. Power plays a problem again. The Blackhawks’ first power play was as forgettable as they come. It was so unproductive, spent so little time in the Jets’ zone that fans started to audibly groan. And when the Blackhawks got a four-minute power play late in regulation they couldn’t get the game-tying goal. Again, this isn’t the first season the power play has struggled. But when the offense overall dries up, the issues here are that much more glaring.

Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

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Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

The Bulls are looking to bounce back Monday night against the Blazers, with coverage on CSN beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live.

And once the game gets underway, make sure you're tuned in as we and other affiliates participate in Chicago Bulls Charities Night.

Throughout the game we'll be highlighting the work that the Bulls organization has done in the Chicago community this past year, including taking part in more than 200 programs that the team says has impacted more than 87,000 Chicagoans.

You too can make an impact by checking out the Bulls Charities silent auction, going on until Dec. 6.

You can also make a donation of any size to Bulls Charities to be entered into a raffle to win a basketball autographed by this year's Bulls team.

Also, Bulls Charities will be hosting a ping-pong tournament next month to raise money. Winners of the tournament will get a chance to play against the Bulls! Learn more about the event, which will take place at Spin, here.

Learn more about Bulls Charities and the work the team does in the community here.