Kings in Chicago to face East's best

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Kings in Chicago to face East's best

March 21, 2011

KINGS (17-51) vs.
BULLS (49-19)

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are known for playing tough defense under coach Tom Thibodeau.

That trait was virtually nonexistent for much of the Bulls' last game, however, and that led to their first loss in more than two weeks.

A much stronger defensive effort should be expected Monday night as Chicago looks to bounce back against the lowly Sacramento Kings at the United Center, where the Bulls have won 12 in a row.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Chicago (49-19), tied with Boston for the Eastern Conference's best record, is first in the league in scoring defense at 91.0 points, but had a sloppy defensive performance in Friday's 115-108 overtime loss to Indiana, snapping an eight-game winning streak. The Bulls surrendered 62 first-half points after allowing fewer than that through three quarters in each of their previous two games.

"We've got to do a lot better," Thibodeau said. "This is a step backwards. We've got to come out ready to play."

Despite the sloppy first-half showing, Chicago, playing without Carlos Boozer for a fifth straight game, managed to force overtime by limiting the Pacers to 13 fourth-quarter points.

"The only quarter we played defense was the fourth," Thibodeau said. "So you usually get what you deserve."

A sensational performance by Derrick Rose also helped send the game to overtime.

The two-time All-Star scored 19 of his career high-tying 42 points in the fourth, made three free throws with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to tie the score and then blocked a shot to force overtime.

Despite Rose's heroics, Thibodeau was still upset with his team's effort, as Chicago fell to 3-13 when allowing opponents to hit the century mark.

When the Bulls play sound defense they usually win, going 42-2 when allowing fewer than 96 points.

Chicago also usually prevails when it takes the court at the United Center.

The Bulls, an East-best 30-4 at home, haven't lost in Chicago since falling to Charlotte by one point on Jan. 18, their only blemish in their last 21 games at the United Center. The 12-game home winning streak is Chicago's longest since a 17-game run during its 1997-98 championship season.

Similarly to Friday, the Bulls used a stellar defensive effort late against the Kings on Nov. 27, limiting them to nine fourth-quarter points in a 96-85 win, their fourth victory in five meetings.

Also like Friday, Rose carried Chicago, finishing with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Boozer sat out with a broken right hand.

Luol Deng also had a strong game, as he usually does against Sacramento, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. In six games against the Kings since 2006-07, Deng is averaging 22.2 points, his highest against any opponent.

The Kings (17-51) arrive in Chicago after opening a five-game road trip with a 127-95 win over Minnesota on Sunday in a matchup of the West's worst teams.

REWIND: Dalembert, Thornton lead Kings to rout of Wolves

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins was ejected in the third quarter after shoving Martell Webster, but Sacramento went on a 21-0 run without him. Samuel Dalembert had 26 points and 17 rebounds and Marcus Thornton added 23 points to help the Kings bounce back from Friday's 102-80 loss to Philadelphia and win for just the second time in 10 games this month.

"We had our worst game of the year last game and our guys responded extremely well," Paul Westphal said. "I was happy for the effort."

Building on this performance and winning back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 28 and 29 could be tough against a Chicago team that hasn't lost two in a row since Feb. 5 and 7.

Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

The Atlanta Falcons had the highest scoring offense during the 2016 regular season, averaging 33.8 points per game, and they racked up 6,653 total yards.

In two playoff games, they've scored a combined 80 points.

The architect of that high-powered offense is Kyle Shanahan, who is the presumptive head coach of the 49ers.

So what makes Shanahan's scheme so effective?

Falcons starting center and former Cal Bears star Alex Mack answered that on ESPN's Mike and Mike show on Tuesday.

"He does a really good job of just having a very balanced offense. We want to run outside schemes. we want to run outside zone, we want to be really effective at doing that. And when a team stops you from doing that, when they put people over there, or they slant out or whatever they do to stop that, he has the backup plan," Mack said.

"He knows exactly when they bring that safety down to make it really tough to run outside zone, well that's going to open up some throws later down the field. And then when they put someone out there on the throws, well, there's a bigger cutback lane, so he calls a different run for that. So our offense is really built around being balanced and having an answer for what the defense wants to do to stop us," Mack continued.

Mack, Shanahan and the Falcons are set to put their No. 1 scoring offense to the test against the Patriots' No. 1 scoring defense in Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.

 

LeBron goes off after latest loss: Cavs 'not better than last year'

LeBron goes off after latest loss: Cavs 'not better than last year'

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James has alluded to flaws with Cleveland's roster all season.

He got much more detailed about the cracks and crevices in the NBA champions after their fifth loss in seven games.

James urged the team's front office to do more after a 124-122 loss Monday night to the New Orleans Pelicans, who were missing star forward Anthony Davis.

"We're not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint," he said. "We're a top-heavy team. ... I just hope we're not satisfied as an organization."

On Tuesday, James went on Twitter to explain that his comments weren't directed at Cavs general manager David Griffin or Cleveland's coaching staff.

"I not mad or upset at management cause Griff and staff have done a great job, I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat..." James tweeted. "If that's what we wanna do."

After speaking to a larger group of reporters on Monday night, James saved his most biting comments for Cleveland's traveling beat writers.

The Cavs haven't played well for weeks, and James felt the need to unload.

"It's been a (lousy) 2017 so far," he said.

His biggest issue is with the current makeup of the Cavs, who have been hurt most by allowing backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova to leave as a free agent and injuries to forward Chris Andersen and guard J.R. Smith. James watched the Golden State Warriors retool after losing in last year's NBA Finals and feels the Cavs haven't done enough to address their biggest needs.

James said he's expressed his opinions directly to Griffin, who recently obtained Kyle Korver in a trade with Atlanta.

"We need a (expletive) playmaker. I'm not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn't say that," James said.

Griffin has an open roster spot and two small trade exceptions. The trading deadline is Feb. 23 and free agents can be signed until March 1 to be eligible for the playoffs.

Now in his 14th season, James knows his time to win more titles is dwindling.

"I don't know what we got to offer," James said of possible deals. "I just know me, personally. I don't got no time to waste. I'll be 33 in the winter, and I ain't got time to waste."

It remains to be seen whether James' public rant will spark the team. But James also knows that the Cavs will do anything within reason to accommodate him. What King James wants, he usually gets.

Despite their recent slide, the Cavs still have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland hosts Sacramento on Wednesday as well as Brooklyn and Oklahoma City later this week.