- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Bulls’ issues with the Kings in Sacramento spilled over into the United Center, as they had a tough time shaking a team that entered the contest 19 games under .500. Each of the past two seasons the Kings have routed the Bulls, and when asked about it at shootaround Saturday, coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t interested in addressing it outside of one- or two-word answers. Joakim Noah helped save the day with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Taj Gibson added 19 points off the bench, including a key jumper from the wing with less than a minute to play.
What it means: The triple-threat Kings provide an interesting matchup issue for the Bulls. A quick point guard in Isaiah Thomas, combined with the inside play of DeMarcus Cousins and the athleticism of Rudy Gay, continues to test Chicago and provide a possible blueprint on how to beat the Bulls. Interestingly, the big issue is how the Kings use their personnel on defense against the Bulls, which can lead to a few easy baskets and expose an offense that already has its weaknesses.
Hits: Noah was engaged in his matchup with Cousins from the outset, going 7-of-8 from the field in the first half and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. He then turned up the heat late, capping things with a steal and a length-of-the-court drive in the fourth quarter to score while getting fouled.
Misses: Jimmy Butler had delivered double-digit scoring efforts in eight of his previous nine games, but didn’t register his first point until making a free throw with 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the game. His first field goal came with 3:21 remaining as he started 0-for-10 from the field.
Stat of the night: The Kings crushed the Bulls on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 55-40.
What’s next: The Bulls host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.