Bulls head to Sacramento to battle Kings on CSN

Bulls head to Sacramento to battle Kings on CSN
March 13, 2013, 9:45 am
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Mark Strotman

DeMarcus Cousins' attitude has gotten him in trouble handfuls of times in his young three-year career, and while his most recent scuffle didn't result in a suspension, he'll likely miss tonight when the Kings host the Bulls on Comcast SportsNet. Bulls Pregame Live begins at 8:30 p.m., hosted by Mark Schanowski, and the pair will have Bulls Postgame Live following the action.

The ultra-talented 22-year-old Cousins has averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds since being drafted by the Kings fifth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. It was a high-risk, high-reward pick given both Cousins' skill set and immaturity. Through 205 career games, Cousins has been more of a headache than anything for the Kings, who haven't won more than 24 games in any season since he came on board and are in danger of being moved to Seattle.

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Cousins was ejected Monday night after throwing a blatant elbow at Milwaukee's Mike Dunleavy (the Bucks won, 115-113) and while he wasn't suspended for tonight, he's also battling a bruise left thigh that likely will keep him out.

Without Cousins, the Kings (22-43) will rely on a host of reserve forwards and centers to man the frontcourt against the Bulls' elite group.

Fourth-year pro Jason Thompson has saved his best basketball of the season for March, averaging 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in the first six contests of the month. He has averaged 10.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in the five games Cousins has missed this season, and scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Kings' Opening Night loss in Chicago on Halloween.

Also in the running for extended minutes will be newly-acquired Patrick Patterson. The Kings received Patterson in a salary dump at the trade deadline, when they shipped away 2012 first-rounder Thomas Robinson to the Rockets. The two-year pro has seen limited minutes (20.7 this month) but made the most of his time, averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in March. Before he was shipped to the West Coast, Patteron was averaging 15.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in February while seeing starter's minutes for the Rockets.

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Chuck Hayes (2.5 points, 3.9 rebounds) may see extended minutes as well.

The Bulls will see a familiar face tonight as well, as small forward John Salmons faces his twice-over old team. Without Cousins' 14.0 shot attempts per game in the mix, the veteran small forward may be in line for a few more shots. Former Bulls first-rounder James Johnson was excused from the team on Sunday for personal reasons and his status is unknown for tonight's game.

A familiar name that has popped up in Aggrey's Mailbags as a potential trade candidate, guard Tyreke Evans, will also be expected to handle the scoring load while Cousins sits. Evans has regressed each of the three seasons following his historic rookie season (20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists), but is playing better of late. He scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting in a home win against Phoenix on Friday and followed with an encore of 20 points against Milwaukee.

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The Kings will be without their best player but, as Bulls fans can relate to with a star player out, that leaves the possibility open for others to step up. Sacramento boasts one of the better home-court advantages in the NBA and the Bulls will need to continue their improved play to pick up win No. 36 tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Stay in-tune with social media happenings by using #BullsTalk on Twitter and checking out Bulls Pulse.