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Bulls embarrassed in Sacramento

3/14/2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Nate Robinson summed up the feelings of the entire Chicago Bulls locker room as he sat in front of his stall with his head down late Wednesday night.

"They just kicked our a--. Period. Simple. Point blank," Robinson said after the DeMarcus Cousins-less Sacramento Kings handed out the Bulls a 121-79 beatdown -- the worst of the Tom Thibodeau era. “That was a good, old-fashioned a-- whuppin'."

The loss, the Bulls' fourth in their past five games, was the latest in a growing trend for a team that is tired and beat up and has had trouble scoring all season. The difference in this one was the sheer embarrassment felt by Thibodeau and his team after this game.

Players openly talked about how disgusted they felt. But they didn't seem to have a clear answer as to how to fix things.

They are looking around for an answer that isn't coming. The Bulls are not only running low on talent, without Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and Derrick Rose, they're running low on belief. No longer so they feel they can outwork everybody and find ways to grind teams out.

"I think we all got to look at each other in the mirror and just understand that we're not competing the way we're supposed to be competing," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "We got a lot of guys out, and our margin for error is very small. And if we're not going into games with the right mindset, then we have no chance."

Noah's sentiments are nice, but the reality for the Bulls is that the injuries, a brutal portion of the schedule, the offensive ineffectiveness and the constant speculation regarding Rose has taken a toll on this team. They were only able to block out so many different things for so long.

The Bulls look around the floor these days and notice who's not with them more than who is. They don't play the same way as they used to, and they no longer believe they have more than enough to win with on any given night. Once a few mistakes are made, everyone starts to look at each other on the floor for an answer that isn't coming.

The Bulls are headed in the wrong direction at the wrong time and they know it. They just don't know how to stop it.

"Our level of intensity was very poor," Thibodeau said. "Our readiness to play: very poor. I'm probably most disappointed in myself. My job is to have them ready. We can't come out like that. That's on me. That's on me.

“I didn't like our intensity in the Laker game. I didn't like it tonight, and I got to drive harder ... and I will."

Thibodeau can take all the blame he wants and he can talk all he wants about pushing his team even harder; the problem is that he has already pushed this team to the brink. They have tried as hard as they can to survive without Rose, but the injuries and the inconsistencies are too much for this team to overcome. They have hit a wall that even Thibodeau can’t push them through.

While the final score here in Sacramento might be long remembered in the aftermath of this game, the most telling part of the loss came in the second quarter as the Kings were in the midst of a 45-10 run:

Thibodeau, usually the most fired-up man in the gym, stood in place with his hands in his pockets as the Kings repeatedly ran down the floor and got whatever they wanted. Instead of barking out orders and shaking his hands, Thibodeau was resigned to the fact that there wasn't much more he could do.

His team is too banged-up and offensively inept at the moment to generate the type of efficiency needed to win many NBA games, let alone one against a team that came into Wednesday's contest with a 22-43 mark.

"We couldn't stop them," Robinson said of the Kings, who made 54.2 percent of their field goal attempts. "It starts with our defense. We just couldn't stop them. No matter what they did, no matter what shot they put up, they made. It felt like they didn't miss the whole game.

“It felt like that was the first team in NBA history to go 100 percent [from the field], that's what it felt like."