Bulls put on show in 40-point romp over Kings

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Bulls put on show in 40-point romp over Kings

Monday, March 21, 2011
Posted: 9:31 p.m. Updated: 11:21 p.m.

By Chris Cason
CSNChicago.com Contributor

After taking a "step backwards" in Fridays overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers the Bulls put their best foot forward and clobbered the Sacramento Kings Monday night, 132-92, for their 13th straight win at home.

Chicago is now 31-4 at the United Center and the win keeps them tied for first place in the Eastern Conference after the Boston Celtics 96-86 victory over the New York Knicks.

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Eight players scored in double figures for the Bulls, including all five starters with Derrick Rose leading the way with 18 points and 8 assists. Luol Deng contributed 17 and Carlos Boozer scored 16 points in his return after missing the last five games recovering from a sprained left ankle.

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I think we came out and did what we were supposed to do," said Rose. "In the beginning, we werent playing defense like were supposed to and we just got things rolling. Guys were hitting shots, we were playing defense, getting a lot of steals and pushing the ball.

After holding a 34-28 lead through one quarter, the Bulls seized control of the game in the second with the bench going on a 15-6 run in a period that saw the Bulls outscore their opponents 30-19 and take a 64-47 lead going into halftime.

It would be more of the same in the second half as the Bulls lead climbed over 20 and with a comfortable margin of 98-72 after the third, all the starters would rest in the final stanza.

The Bulls were able to convert 22 of the Kings turnovers into 35 points and accumulated an astonishing 16 steals and 10 blocked shots.

"I didnt like our defense in the first half," admitted Coach Tom Thibodeau. "I thought it was better in the second half. I thought we moved the ball really well and thought we played unselfishly. I thought our bench was very good.

With such a thorough beating, even the opposition had to take their hats off to an all around performance.

"Beno Udrih, at the end of the game told me 'You guys are playing great basketball,'" said Kyle Korver, who scored 18 points and went 4-for-5 from three-point range.

The Bulls hope to continue their strong play when they travel to Atlanta to face a Hawks team that probably has revenge on its mind after being embarrassed 94-76 the last time the two clubs matched up on March 11.

With a race for the top seed and with 40-point wins, the Bulls are definitely enjoying the ride.

Its fun," said Rose. I cant complain about anything right now. Were winning games, playing good basketball, the city is going crazy, and we have good fans everywhere. In every arena we play in, we have a good amount of fans there and were loving it.

NOTES

After missing the last five games, Boozer had much more bounce in his step and was very aggressive when looking for his offense, something that had become somewhat of a concern since Joakim Noah returned from injury.

WATCH: Boozer's ankle feeling good

"I was excited," said Boozer. "I hadn't played in such a long time. It's like a kid, being on punishment and you ask your mom, can I go outside and play and she says no and you're still grounded and you get a chance to go outside. That's how it felt."

He was also pleased by how his ankle held up after admitting he felt some soreness after practice on Saturday.

"I didnt have any pain or soreness," said the power forward. "It felt great. I thought we did a job rehabbing it. We didnt push it too soon, let it heal itself and today happened to be the day.

After being a game-time decision because of turf toe on his right foot, Taj Gibson warmed up and elected to play.

Gibson only scored two points, but his activity on the defensive end helped disrupt the Kings offense during his 18 minutes on the floor. He finished the game with three steals.

I just want to go out there and prove myself to my teammates," said Gibson about not sitting out for what he feels is just a bum toe.

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What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

The Bulls have made their biggest decision of the offseason but the future of Rajon Rondo and to a lesser extent, Dwyane Wade, is still in the air.

Due to the trade for Kris Dunn and the Bulls having acquired Cameron Payne at the trade deadline last season, it doesn’t appear to be much room for Rondo. Even moreso, considering Dunn and Payne’s lack of production, one would think the Bulls would easily guarantee Rondo’s $13.3 million for next season.

But with the June 30th deadline approaching, it seems more and more like the Bulls will buy Rondo out for $3 million and go with a total youth movement, despite Rondo’s success with guiding some of the young players on the roster.

If not for Rondo’s wrist injury in Game 2 of the Bulls’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Bulls could’ve advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Instead, they’re embarking on what could be a long process that may take years to recover from.

“He’s always been a great teammate and nurturer of the young guys,” said Bill Duffy, Rondo’s agent. Duffy also serves as Zach LaVine’s agent, so he was in attendance for LaVine’s introduction at the United Center.

The handling of Rondo’s benching, re-emergence and subsequent importance to the Bulls this past season has helped Rondo, in a sense. Rondo proved to be a galvanizing force to a degree after being shuffled in and out of the starting lineup.

“I think it’s fair to say he definitely showed a different persona that what had existed but like I said, he’s always been that way, I think it’s more publicized,” Duffy said. “I think he just loves to develop people, always managing and directing. So I think that’s always the case with the younger guys.”

If Rondo is released—and it certainly appears matters are trending in that direction, the 31-year old could have suitors in the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers, sources tell CSNChicago.com. One would think the Bulls could use Rondo’s type of straightforward but encouraging brand of leadership in the locker room, but the Bulls have yet to guarantee his contract for next season.

“That’s still to be determined,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’re going to sit down with Bill and talk it through. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team, the right veterans – guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys and can continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”

“The proof’s always in the pudding and I think if you talk to the front office and coaches, they really love what he brought and how he handled the challenges last year,” Duffy said. “I think we all mature over time and he’s been in the league a long time. He wants to win but he loves the game. I think he appreciates it more, he’s kinda of in his twilight years or approaching it.”

As for Wade, he exercised his $23.8 million option for next season as he was expected to, but that was before the Jimmy Butler trade that ushered in a new day of change.

There’s been speculation Wade would seek a buyout from the Bulls at the start of free agency but so far, those conversations haven’t been held and Paxson intimated Wade would have to give back a significant amount of that money to become a free agent.

There’s been speculation of Wade joining LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Carmelo Anthony getting a buyout from the Knicks and following suit.

But the Cavaliers will have very little to offer in the way of cap space, so it’s tough to see Wade giving back a large sum then going to Cleveland for the veterans’ minimum—which would not make up the difference of a “significant” amount.

“I know Gar has spoken with Leon Rose, Dwyane’s agent, As far as the buyout, that has not been broached,” Paxson said. “I would say this: In this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would have to benefit us. Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he’s been around a lot of different situations.”

But with Wade’s history of giving up large sums of money in the name of team, it’s harder to predict his moves. As strong as his relationship with Butler is, the possibility of Butler being moved didn’t affect him picking up his option, so his desire to play competitive or at least meaningful basketball could be weighed against wanting to keep his family comfortable after relocating to Chicago last year and collecting every dollar of his deal.

“He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well,” Paxson said. “So right now we’re operating under assumption that he’ll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, it would have to be advantageous for us."