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Chicago Bulls vs. Sacramento Kings: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

Chicago Bulls vs. Sacramento Kings: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago

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    Well, that was hard to watch.

    The Chicago Bulls traveled to Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night to take on the Sacramento Kings, and after a 121-79 loss, it became obvious just how badly this team misses Derrick Rose.

    The Bulls have prided themselves on their depth and defense all year, and for the most part, they’ve stayed competitive. They’ve exceeded expectations during the 2012-13 season, but when their defense failed them in this one, they had nobody on offense to make up the difference.

    Midway through the first quarter is when Sacramento began to establish its offense. A 15-4 run to end the period gave the Kings a 14-point lead, and that margin increased to 29 by halftime.

    Defensively, the numbers speak for themselves. In the first half alone, Chicago gave up 65 points, allowed 58.3 percent shooting and forced just one turnover—an illegal screen in the second period.

    Offensively, the numbers were bad, but this showing was about more than just the box score. When Carlos Boozer left the floor for his first rest, the team didn’t know which way to look. Nobody knew how to take over in times of adversity, and that’s going to be a problem as this team approaches the playoffs.

    If we learned anything Wednesday night, it’s that the Bulls need Rose to return if they stand a chance in the postseason. Their defense is as good as it comes, but on the rare occasion that they fall asleep on that end of the floor, where are they going to turn if Rose is still out?

    A loss like this is often forgotten, as you don’t learn much when a good team plays so poorly. However, with the Bulls’ offensive deficiencies being so prominently exposed, you have to wonder just what they can do with their leader sitting on the bench.

Point Guard: Nate Robinson

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    Often times when the Chicago Bulls struggle offensively, it's because Nate Robinson is taking ill-advised shots. This time, however, Robinson remained quiet, but he wasn't doing anything to hurt the team during their drought.

    Making two of his first three shots was welcomed by Chicago, and getting to the foul line is what helped him score when the offense had no flow.

    The point guard could have done a better job facilitating, but with nobody making their shots, it's impossible to expect his numbers to rise in the assists category.

    Defensively, Robinson had trouble against Sacramento's backcourt. Isiah Thomas was able to run at his own pace and score efficiently, which only added to the momentum the Kings were able to establish.

    Robinson finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

    Grade: B

Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli

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    Marco Belinelli was the only Chicago Bulls starter not to score against the Sacramento Kings. That stat alone is bad enough, but if you can believe it, it gets worse.

    Belinelli had a game-worst minus-35 in the plus-minus category. He missed all nine of his shots—including all five from long range—and that's against the team that is 30th in the league in points per game allowed.

    He only recorded two assists and one rebound, but as bad as he was on offense—and trust me, he was bad—his defense was what really stood out.

    Tyreke Evans has been as inconsistent as it comes over the past two years, but he had an absolute field day against Belinelli. The 23-year-old finished with 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists, and he made 11 of his 13 attempts from the field.

    Grade: F

Small Forward: Luol Deng

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    Luol Deng had a quiet game against the Sacramento Kings, and in a contest where almost everything went wrong for the road team, quiet proved to be completely acceptable.

    Deng never did anything to help the Chicago Bulls climb back, but he never did anything to hurt the team either. Too many players were taking bad shots, and if there's any silver lining for the Bulls, it's that Deng wasn't one of them.

    It'd be easy to criticize Deng's defensive efforts, but the truth is that he was one of the better defenders on the night. Nobody played well on that side of the floor—as evidenced by the final score—but he never let any one player go off at any point in the game.

    If you want to criticize Deng for not playing hero, that's fine. But understand that the little things are often what you want to see, and even in a blowout, small defensive efforts should be recognized.

    Grade: C+

Power Forward: Carlos Boozer

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    In one of the ugliest first-half performances in recent Chicago Bulls memory, Carlos Boozer was the only player to have an impact on offense.

    The big man scored 11 points before anyone else on the roster scored more than two, and he was making his impact felt both with his jump shot and with his abilities on the block.

    As well as Boozer started offensively, his opponent at the power forward position played just as well. Patrick Patterson was also spreading the floor with his mid-range jumper, and while both Boozer and Joakim Noah saw time against the big, Patterson was one of the first players to get things rolling for the Kings.

    On the glass, Boozer played decently. He grabbed seven rebounds in 29 minutes, but it was his 21 points that made him the only reliable option from start to finish.

    Grade: B+

Center: Joakim Noah

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    With DeMarcus Cousins out of the lineup, you would have expected Joakim Noah to thrive off of size and energy alone. Unfortunately for Chicago, its center was guilty of inefficient play, and he never made a difference at any point in the contest.

    Noah missed his first four shots, finished 3-of-8 from the field and scored just six points in 29 minutes. You don't expect him to be a go-to option, but you'd like to see competency against the opponents' backup bigs.

    In the rebounding department, Noah did manage to collect nine boards, and while that's a solid number any night of the week, it doesn't make up for his lack of defensive production.

    On the night, Noah failed to block a single shot. He was never able to stop the Kings at the rim, and his overall presence was forgettable this time around.

    Grade: C-

Sixth Man: Jimmy Butler

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    Throughout the 2012-13 season, we've seen some great performances from Jimmy Butler. He's had a huge impact both off the bench and in the starting lineup, but it goes without saying that Wednesday night was not in the same category.

    Butler is the kind of player who can enter a game and provide instant energy. He doesn't have the intensity of a Joakim Noah or a Nate Robinson, but he plays hard and does the little things.

    Consider his showing against the Sacramento Kings an anomaly, as nothing was going right during his 23 minutes.

    Butler made just two of his 10 shots. He missed all three attempts from behind the arc and only grabbed two rebounds along the way.

    Even simple things such as disrupting passing lanes were non-existent, which removed the notion of a spark from Butler early.

    Grade: F

Bench

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    The Chicago Bulls bench was downright awful in the first half Wednesday night. In the first 24 minutes, all five reserves combined for 2-of-13 from the floor, including 0-of-6 from behind the three-point line.

    The Bulls' starters needed as much help as they could get in the second quarter, and the backups failed to deliver.

    The stat line for the second unit shows 23 points on the night, but almost all of that came with the game already decided. This game was lost in the second quarter, so anything this group did in the fourth will be long forgotten the next time they see the floor.

    Grade: F

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