It was a win that the Chicago Bulls really needed as they beat the Sacramento Kings 109-102 at the United Center. The win helped Chicago stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race as the Pistons also won tonight as well.
But the night could have ended totally differently for Chicago as the Bulls saw their bench give up a double digit lead, a lead they had held for practically the entire game up till then. That forced Fred Hoiberg to revert back to his starters and immediately Chicago was back in control of the game. Derrick Rose was the main catalyst for the Bulls offense down the stretch as the point guard had some key baskets down the stretch.
With Rajon Rondo guarding Jimmy Butler, the Kings were forced to put Darren Collison on Derrick Rose on the defensive end. With Collison guarding him, Chicago decided to run the pick roll through Rose and force DeMarcus Cousins to try and guard Rose on the switch. That was all Rose needed as he was able to get take advantage of having the big man guard him as he knocked down two key jumpers to help Chicago restore the lead.
Rose was also able to use his quickness to get past Cousins another time and find Taj Gibson late down the stretch for an open jumper. Chicago clearly found a matchup problem down the stretch and exploited it against the Kings. It was really nice to see good offensive execution after that horrible stretch by the bench earlier in the quarter.
It was a good night for Rose as he scored 18 points on nine of 15 shooting from the field. He has found his shooting touch over the last stretch of games as he has shot over 50% in nine of his last 12 games. If Rose is able to keep his shooting touch along with the other things he brings to the Bulls offense, it would do wonders for Chicago.
The five starters restored order for the Bulls and all five were key contributors down the stretch but it all stemmed from Derrick Rose in this game.
Two other takeaways
2. Doug McDermott continues the hot shooting
March has been another very good month for Doug McDermott so far and he showed it again tonight. McDermott was the shining light in what was a horrible day for the rest of the bench as he scored 16 points off six of 11 shooting and also knocked down four triples tonight. McDermott is just hot right now, there is no other way to put it. He just can't stop scoring the basketball. He's coming off of screens or is being found in transition and is just knocking it down. He is also stepping it up on the defensive end as well.
I remember Nikola Mirotic having a stretch like this last year sometime around March/April but he disappeared during the playoffs. Let's hope that doesn't happen to McDermott.
3. Bulls kept DeMarcus Cousins at bay
Yes DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 18 rebounds but it was overall a really tough offensive night for the big man. Cousins went six of 14 from the field and shot up a lot of contested shots along the way. Credit to Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol down the stretch as both did their part in keeping the big man from having a big night at the United Center.
Taj Gibson is ridiculous. Giving up size to Cousins + forcing him into airballs, leading team in points, setting huge screens for Doug— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) March 22, 2016