Bulls get Kings down and keep them there

March, 21, 2011
3/21/11
11:20
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- I guess Derrick Rose wasn't kidding.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose scored 18 points as the Bulls routed the Kings on Monday.
Rose told everyone who would listen that his team had learned from last season’s 35-point meltdown against the Sacramento Kings and wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

"It's a heartbreaker," Rose said on Sunday. "But you learn from it. If we're up 30, we're going to try to push it to 40, 50 points."

As usual with Rose and the Bulls this season, mission accomplished.

The Bulls absolutely annihilated the Kings on Monday night at the United Center beating them by 40 in a 132-92 win, and Rose is hopeful that it’s another sign that the Bulls are growing up as a team.

"We definitely learned from last year," he said. "Even the game against Atlanta, where we had a large lead and let them come back, we learned from that. And I think it made us stronger as a team."

From top to bottom, the Bulls had their most impressive game of the season. Eight players scored in double figures and they shot 61 percent from the field. The fact that they did it against a team that looks like it was jammed together at the local YMCA should be noted, but beating any NBA team by such a wide margin is impressive.

"Sometimes when it rains, it pours, right?" Bulls guard Kyle Korver said of the team's hot shooting. "I thought we executed really well. We got a lot of good looks. It's not like we were making a lot of tough shots. We hit a lot of jump shots. Guys passed the ball really well; we had a lot of assists. When you're doing that, it's really fun basketball to play."

Obviously, it's even more fun when you're winning. The Bulls have now won 50 games, and it's more clear than ever that they have bought into coach Tom Thibodeau's system.

If you want to look for the single biggest difference as to how the Bulls have changed since their Dec. 21, 2009 meltdown against the Kings, look no further than the veteran coach patrolling the Bulls sideline. Thibodeau said after his team won by 40 that he was not happy with the defense in the first half or the rebounding all night.

"This is a new year," Rose said. "I think that Thibs wouldn't allow that anyway."

Any player who was there a year and a half ago would say the same thing, and even the new additions were confident that nothing like that would happen again.

"I watched it on SportsCenter," Korver said. "I heard about that game. I think we feel like this is a totally different team. It's a different mindset, it's a different culture. We didn't talk about it one time."

Why should they? When you're dominating the way the Bulls have been lately there are much more important things to worry about -- like staying atop the Eastern Conference. No longer fighting for the final spot in the playoffs like they did the past two seasons, Rose knows what happened the last time the Bulls rattled off 50 or more wins in a season.

"A championship," he said. "But we're taking it one game at a time. We're not worried about that. Of course, we want to win it, but there's still a long, long way. We've still got a lot more things to work on before we get there. We're trying to become a 48-minute team."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Pau Gasol
PTS AST STL MIN
18.0 1.5 0.0 33.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 10.0
AssistsM. Dunleavy 6.0
StealsK. Hinrich 1.5
BlocksJ. Noah 3.0