Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls are looking to avoid a losing streak when they take on Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night. The Bulls got down early on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, and never quite recovered. Derrick Rose had a particularly difficult night during the 99-91 loss, finishing with just 13 points on 4-17 shooting. Although the team stressed the importance of defensive discipline and intensity after the game, the heartbeat of the offense is Rose. If the reigning league MVP doesn't look right, the Bulls are quite beatable. Here is what the crew at Blog a Bull has to say:
It's not news that when Rose isn't playing at MVP-type levels, the Bulls aren't that great of a team. But what's more worrisome is when Rose is subpar and the rest don't even look to be above average. And it starts with what should be the Bulls #2 option, Carlos Boozer. Boozer not only had an anemic 6 points in his 26 minutes, but he was consistently abused by his contemporary (in position and salary) David Lee. Boozer was also partly responsible for no less than three turnovers where Rip Hamilton failed to connect on an entry pass. Noah fared slightly better and Taj Gibson was part of a desperation comeback unit in the 4th quarter, but the entire Bulls frontcourt looked not only slow themselves, but fairly weak: often not being able to finish or getting the ball stripped before they even had a chance to.
The good news for the team is that they are set to take on a Kings team that has developed a well-deserved reputation for poor defensive efforts. After pulling off a surprising 100-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakes in their season opener, the Kings put up a stinker against the Portland Trail Blazers and lost 79-101. Even so, Sacramento is loaded with offensive talent. Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and DeMarcus Cousins should present a great test for the Bulls defense. Cousins should be a particularly interesting player to watch on Thursday night, because he might finally be putting his immense talent to good use. Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty explains:
The biggest offensive knock on Cousins last season -- even bigger than the turnovers, of which there were way too many -- was that he took way too many long jumpers. He's a decent shooter and can get off a jumper against anyone, but his physical make-up and agility are best suited in the pivot. A key development point for Cousins would be to shift his shot structure to rely less on the perimeter and mid-range and more on the post...Through two games, 19 of Cousins' 32 shooting possessions have come at the rim or on free throws. That's up at 59 percent ... much, much better. He's missed a lot of makeable layups and struggled at the line so far, but that should normalize so long as he doesn't force wild shots under the backboard against good defenders
Joakim Noah will likely matchup against DMC on defense, so be sure to keep an eye on how well Noah or Omer Asik can limit interior looks for Cousins. As for Fredette, Evans and Thornton, their talents are a double-edged sword. Known as offensive-minded guards, it may be the case that anything they do in terms of scoring will be matched or outdone by counterpart Derrick Rose. Expect a fast-paced game with plenty of scoring.
Game day/time: Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, 9:00 p.m. CT
Location: Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento, CA
For updates on the matchup, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage, visit Blog a Bull and Sactown Royalty. And for more news and notes from around the NBA, head over to SB Nation's NBA news hub.