Chicago Bulls

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.

WATCH: Derrick Rose makes a poster

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.

Korver knows Bulls are tough to guard

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.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's homecoming may not last much longer. 

According to Nick Friedell's ESPN report, the Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement with the 12-time NBA All-Star "at some point in the next few months." 

The news comes two months after Wade picked up his player option, choosing $24 million over earning less on a more competitive team. 

If Gar Forman and John Paxson indeed decide to buy D-Wade out, the "Three Alphas," which consisted of Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, would all be out just one season after coming together. 

The buyout may also mean more ping-pong balls in next year's stacked draft