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The Chicago Bulls return home to the United Center to take on the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins Saturday night. The Bulls (21-23) and barely hanging on to the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference come back to the Chi after a 102- 93 loss in Atlanta Friday night. Losing their last two games, Chicago needs to string together some wins to get back to .500, something beneficial approaching the All-Star break.
The Sacramento Kings come from the West with arguably the best center in the NBA in DeMarcus Cousins and one of the more outspoken. Cousins is averaging 27.8 PPG per contest to go along with eight rebounds and four assists. The Achilles for the Kings is the recent injury to swingman Rudy Gay who ruptured his Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, according to NBA.com. With Gay out, and being the person responsible for Boogie's only real help with scoring (Gay is averaging 18.7 PPG), the weight falls on role players Darren Collison, Garrett Temple, and Ty Lawson to step up to fill the void.
The Kings will surely look to Cousins to dominate Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson by keeping those guys short of wind and stretching the floor on the offensive side. But with one of the worst statistical offenses in the league, the Bulls must look capitalize using their defensive abilities and advantage in scoring the basketball in comparison to Sacramento's roster. The Kings enter the game 22nd and 23rd respectively in PPG and offensive pace.
With no real weapons on offense, the friendly confines of the "Madhouse on Madison," and apology from Chicago-native Dwyane Wade, the Bulls should cruise easily to a victory. Jimmy Butler and Wade continue to voice their frustrations. Per ESPN staff writer Nick Friedell, Butler had this to say following Friday's loss:
"I take everything personal," Butler said. "I hate losing. I'll leave it at that. Losing is something that I don't accept. We shouldn't accept. We got to go out and be better. It pisses me off because I know what we're capable of in this locker room, and losing isn't OK on our watch ever. Ever."
The Bulls have many problems right now and the biggest is possibly not making the playoffs in back-to-back years. Wade is on his last legs, Butler is being wasted, and Rondo won't be around much longer either. Hoiberg is also maybe on the way out (for many reasons, not of is doing), so a big win tonight can help with morale and confidence.
Tipoff scheduled at 8 PM Central on the WGN broadcast network and NBA League Pass.