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Bulls vs. Kings game preview: DeMarcus Cousins returns to host Bulls in late game

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

[Thanks to bleeinternets for today's game preview -yfbb]

Here we are on day 3 After Stern. Somehow, some way the Association has managed to stay afloat. The Kings are also still in Sacramento, and face off against our Bulls tonight. After the loss to the Pelicans on Saturday, the Bulls are back at .500 (23-23, double MJ!), while the Kings come in at 15-32, last in the Western Conference and losers of 7 straight.

Here are some things:

  • DAMMIT BOOZER: Carlos Boozer is my wife's favorite player. When we went to our first Bulls game together last season (her first Bulls game ever), everyone around us was talking about how much Boozer sucked and that they didn't like him. How mean. She felt kind of bad about that (and rather liked the shape of his arms) so she had her eye on him whenever he was on the floor. Our man Carlos responded by (inefficiently) scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a loss to the Bobcats. Thanks for sticking around through this little anecdote as I tell it to keep from laughing about Carlos Boozer wanting to play more in the fourth quarter. Jay broke it down a little earlier, and here's a fun stat from his post:

    "the team has simply performed better with Gibson on the court in the fourth quarter this year. Gibson has a net rating of 0.9 in the fourth quarter, while Boozer's is -7.0. Want more? Boozer is generally terrible when the game is close, shooting under 40 percent when the score is within five points. Gibson is at 47.0 percent in those situations this year. Sorry, Carlos."
  • PICK WATCH: Considering the talent the Kings have accumulated, there's a decent chance that they'll be good enough to convey their first round pick to the Bulls (acquired in the Luol Deng trade) within the next couple of years when it's top-12 protected. Not such a great chance for this season, though, as their 7-game skid has dropped Sacramento to last place in the Western Conference. Chad Ford says (via ESPN Insider) that the Kings "are trying to make a late push for the playoffs" and "are looking to buy good players, not sell them."

  • TALENT: And, again, although the Kings are bad, they have been good at building up a collection of good, young players. They have 3 players averaging 20+ PPG this season for them: All-Star snub DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay (more below) and Isaiah Thomas (the new one, not the old one). They also acquired Derrick Williams in a trade with the Timberwolves earlier this season and have given him more regular minutes. Rookie Ben McLemore has some growing to do, but he's still just 20 years old.

  • RUDY, RUDY, RUDY: In his 24 games with the Kings, Rudy Gay has put up 21 PPG, up slightly from his 19.4 with the Raptors; however, in his time in Sacramento he has posted a 22.5 PER, up significantly from his 14.9 mark in Toronto. This is in large part due to a significant increase in 2 point percentage -- Gay is attempting fewer 2-pointers than with the Raptors AND he's making more of the ones he takes. His 2pt% is .564 with the Kings, as opposed to .391 with Toronto.

  • INJURIES: DeMarcus Cousins is listed as questionable for the game tonight. [he's playing -yfbb] He's missed the last 7 contests (which coincides with the Kings' 7 game losing streak). Our old friend ("friend?") Aaron Gray has been starting in place of Cousins, so expect to see some of him tonight.

  • TRADE BLOCK: Joe Cowley of the Sun Times seemed to back off the Taj Gibson trade talk a bit, saying that the Bulls won't trade him unless a move would "assure" them of landing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. In other words, it probably won't happen. He also mentions Joakim Noah as untouchable, which, yes, obviously since trading Noah right now would probably cause a small-to-mid-size potentially violent mutiny in these parts.

  • KINGS: Tonight the Bulls play the Kings AND the Blackhawks play the [Los Angeles] Kings. Doesn't really mean anything, but it's kind of fun. The games will also be happening simultaneously and in the same state.

  • SBN FAMILY: The SBN sister site for Kings fans is Sac Town Royalty, a truly fine blog. They wrote a nice farewell to David Stern, who played a large part in making sure the Kings stayed in Sacramento.

TUNE IN: Tipoff is at 9pm, Comcast on TV, ESPN 1000 on the radio. Then right after the game I'm getting on the sleep train right to bed. Zing? Enjoy, everyone.