Bulls-Kings Preview

The Chicago Bulls nearly managed a win without their leading

scorer but are hoping to have him back against the Sacramento


Derrick Rose, who is averaging a team-best 26.3 points, is

expected to return as the Bulls try to finish their annual circus

trip above .500 for the first time since 1997-98 when they face the

Kings on Saturday night.

Chicago (8-6) battled back from a 19-point third-quarter deficit

but fell to Denver 98-97 in dramatic fashion as Carmelo Anthony

connected on a 23-foot buzzer-beating jump shot.

Rose, who missed the game with a stiff neck after apparently

sleeping it wrong the night before, averaged 30.6 points through

Chicago’s first five contests on the seven-game road swing. His

absence was missed, particularly late.

John Lucas III, who was signed Friday to take Rose’s spot on the

roster, missed two free throws with 12.9 seconds to go in the game

which would have put the Bulls up three.

Rose has been held to an average of 13.5 points in four career

games versus Sacramento.

C.J. Watson stepped up with Rose on the sidelines, scoring a

season-high 33 in his first start of the season. Watson could be in

line for another big game against the Kings, against whom he scored

a career-high 40 last season while with Golden State.

“This team, Chicago, the thing right now, I think they’re

probably the hardest playing team in the league,” Nuggets coach

George Karl said. “Play hard makes good things happen. Play hard

can pick your team up when you have your best player not playing

and almost win a game.”

Noah scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds versus the Nuggets

for his fifth straight double-double. He is averaging 8.3 points

over his career but has scored in double figures every game this


The Bulls have gone 1-5 without Rose in the lineup since

drafting him first overall in 2008.

Sacramento is coming off a 100-82 loss to the Los Angeles

Clippers on Thursday night, its ninth loss in 10 games after a 3-1


The Kings (4-10) are averaging 89.1 points over that span, due

in large part to the recent struggles of last season’s rookie of

the year Tyreke Evans.

Evans, who leads the team with 17.5 points per game, is

averaging 9.3 while connecting on 24.3 percent of his field-goal

attempts over his last three contests.

Evans missed his first eight shots and finished with eight

points on 2-of-13 shooting in Thursday night’s defeat, leaving

coach Paul Westphal at a loss for answers.

“Tyreke is not used to this prolonged period of lack of

production, and I’m sure that it bothers him,” Westphal said. “He’s

too good of a player to shoot 2 for 13 from the field. We know that

he’s had ankle problems, but he says that he’s OK. He’s just not

finishing plays and he’s not making the decisions that he needs to


The No. 4 overall pick from last year’s draft averaged 21.5

points in two games against the Bulls.

Sacramento had won nine consecutive games over the Bulls at home

before losing the previous two meetings.