Apparently the Bulls didn't like the way they played on Friday night in Indiana. Three nights after leaving almost all the scoring duties to Derrick Rose, Chicago had eight players score in double figures on its way to a dominating 40 point victory.
The Bulls' 132-92 blitzkreig was a season-high in points scored and the second-largest margin of victory this year. Chicago outscored the Kings 56-22 in the paint and had 36 points off of 22 Sacramento turnovers.
Starters rested for most of fourth quarter as the outcome was never in doubt. The gulf in ability, and even more so, commitment, was almost as wide as the margin of victory. It is easy to see why some fans have dubbed the Kings, Excramento.
And yet, credit must be paid to this Bulls team as it has surpassed almost all preseason predictions with its 50th win of the season. It is the first time Chicago has eclipsed the 50-mark since MJ and Pip led the team to its sixth championship in 1997-98.
How much the Bulls have changed over the course of this season, from plucky first-round playoff fodder, to developing contender, to downright scary elite squad. As this is the first time most of the Bulls have been in this position, they are still learning how to stomp the teams they are supposed to beat. Tonight was a strong step in that direction.
With 13 games left, playoff seeding becomes the focus as the Bulls remain tied with Boston for first place while the Miami Heat lurk only two games behind. Chicago would love to be in a scenario where Boston and Miami had to play one another before facing the Bulls. While resting the starters before the playoffs begin is a priority, coach Tom Thibodeau must weigh its value against the Bulls' chase for home court advantage.
As for the game, Chicago's offense more than carried the weight of a defense that was still ironing out the kinks early on. Even in a 40 point victory, Thibodeau's first words in his press conference were that he didn't like the first half defense. His message never wavers, yet another reason why the Bulls are in the position they find themselves in.
Omer Asik scored a career-high 14 points on 6-6 "shooting". Unless we're mistaken, every one of those was a dunk. Kyle Korver toyed with the Kings' horrific defense, scoring 18 points and going 4-5 from downtown. Carlos Boozer had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 25 minutes of action. Derrick Rose got a break after attempting to carry the team against the Pacers, notching 18 points, 8 assists and two Sportscenter dunks in 28 minutes of action.
Let's take a moment to enjoy one of them:
Enjoy these moments, Bulls fans. It is a rare gift to root for a talented team with chemistry like we're seeing, to say nothing of Chicago's humble leader and MVP favorite.
The Bulls alternate home and road games for the next ten days, in a strange bit of scheduling. As such they are off to Atlanta to face the Hawks for the third time in three weeks. Gametime is at 7:00 CDT.