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