Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls in Chicago


Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best season in more than a decade, and they're trying not to get too fixated on where all this success might lead.Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver scored 18 points apiece as the Bulls blasted the Sacramento Kings 132-92 on Monday night for their ninth win in 10 games."It's fun," Rose said. "I can't complain about anything right now. We're winning games, playing good basketball and the city is going crazy."The win gave the Bulls (50-19) their first 50-win season since 1997-98 and allowed Chicago to remain tied with Boston atop the Eastern Conference. The Celtics beat the New York Knicks on Monday."It was fun to watch tonight," Carlos Boozer said. "It's fun to watch everybody play."That 1997-98 edition of the Bulls won the NBA championship, the last of six titles the franchise won in the 1990s. When that was pointed out to Rose, he said the team is trying not to get too far ahead of itself."We're trying to win one game at a time," Rose said. "Of course, we'd like to win (a title). We still have a lot of things to work on before we get there."Boozer scored 16 points in his return to the Bulls' lineup after missing five games with a sprained left ankle."First game back, I thought (Boozer) was very good," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought he actually scored a lot more efficiently than I thought he would."He missed a lot of time and he got basically one practice. I thought it was very encouraging."Boozer led a balanced Bulls attack that had eight players scoring in double figures in a game that was not close after the first period."It felt great," Boozer said of his ankle. "I was happy with how strong it was through the course of the game. I was also happy to get a lot of rest in the fourth quarter."Luol Deng scored 17 points for the Bulls, Keith Bogans added 15, Joakim Noah and Omer Asik each had 14, and C.J. Watson chipped in with 11 points."I love the balance," Thibodeau said. "We're inside-out, keeping the ball moving, making the extra pass."With the game well in hand, Thibodeau had the luxury of resting his top players. Rose played just 28 minutes, his lowest total of the season. He didn't play in the fourth quarter."I know you guys are all concerned about the minutes," Thibodeau said. "Getting the minutes down was good."The Bulls shot 61.3 percent from the field. More aggressive from the outset, Chicago forced 22 Sacramento turnovers and held a 36-7 edge in fastbreak points. The Bulls set a season high for points."The more we can get into the open floor, the better," Thibodeau said. "Getting the easy baskets makes the game easier."Marcus Thornton led the Kings (17-52) with 25 points."We turn the ball over and they go get a layup," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "That's not a breakdown in defense, but pretty soon they're shooting 61 percent for the game and they're wearing us out. You can't keep turning the ball over the way we do it against a great team like the Bulls."I think they have legitimate championship aspirations. They're in the conversation with four or five other teams."Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins struggled, getting in foul trouble early. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, but also committed eight turnovers."DeMarcus' turnovers stand out tonight," Westphal said. "However, he is a young, gifted player who has a few things to learn about decision-making."The high-scoring Thornton has scored 20 or more points in nine of Sacramento's last 12 games."We tried to chip away in the second half, but they turned the defense up again on us and we kind of ran out of gas," Thornton said. "They're a great defensive team. Defense wins championships. They're going to make a deep run in the playoffs."The Bulls have won 13 straight at the United Center, their longest home winning streak since 1997-98. At 31-4, the Bulls have the NBA's second-best home record behind San Antonio (32-3).Chicago led by as many as 25 in the third period, reaching that advantage when Bogans lobbed a pass toward the rim on a fastbreak and Rose flew in from the baseline and dunked it with both hands.Sacramento, which entered averaging more turnovers (16.1) than all but two NBA teams, had 12 miscues in the first 18 minutes, leading to 19 Chicago points."We have to be stronger with the ball," said Kings point guard Beno Udrih, who had 13 points and five assists. "Pass it when you see the man open right away instead of holding it too long."Notes: Chicago mascot "Benny the Bull" celebrated his birthday. He was joined by mascots flown in from other teams as party of a halftime party. ... The win might have helped the Bulls overcome the painful memory of Sacramento's last visit to Chicago. On Dec. 21, 2009, the Kings erased a 35-point third quarter deficit and beat Chicago 102-98. It was the NBA's biggest comeback in over 13 years. ... The 1997-98 Bulls won their 50th game on March 20, one day before this year's Bulls reached that mark. ... This is the 14th time in franchise history that the Bulls have won 50 or more games. ... The Bulls improved to 38-2 when holding teams under 95 points or less this season.

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds stepped into Giants' broadcast booth with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow during the top of the third inning Sunday and Kuiper immediately brought up the shape Bonds is in at 52 years old. 

"Still think you can play, probably?" Kuiper asked Bonds. 

After giving Kuiper the look, Bonds replied, "About an inning or two."

Moments later, the cameras moved to McCovey Cove past the right field wall at AT&T Park where Bonds famously hit home runs deep into the water. Of the 73 Splash Hits off Giants bats into the cove, Bonds is responsible for 35 of them. 

Now an avid cyclist who still picks up a bat from time to time, Bonds is fully confident that number would rise if he stepped into the batter's box again. 

"I promise you I will," Bonds replied when Krukow asked if he could still hit home runs into the water. "Without a doubt." 

Krukow predicted Bonds would need 10 swings to get it done. Bonds says he might need just a few more.

"Well it would take me eight swings to get warmed up, three pop ups and then I'd get it," he said with a laugh. 

During spring training this year, Bonds joined the Giants as a special instructor. And he proved his claim of more Splash Hits could certainly be true as he showed off his legendary swing and cracked balls over the wall in Scottsdale

Bonds hit his final home run of his career, No. 762, on Sept. 5, 2007 on the road against the Rockies in a 5-3 Giants win. The Giants are adding Bonds to their Wall of Fame on July 8. 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017


The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.