Down 35, Kings rally past Bulls

The buzzer sounded, the 35-point comeback was complete and both the

ecstatic Sacramento Kings and the stunned Chicago Bulls had trouble

describing what had just happened.

“Wow! All I can say is, ‘Wow!”‘ Tyreke Evans said after

dominating down the stretch and leading the Kings to a 102-98

victory Monday night. “We fought to the end. It was amazing.”

Indeed, it was one of the most amazing comebacks in NBA


According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest

rally since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on Nov.

27, 1996.

“I mean, what can you say? It’s unheard of to do what just

happened,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “I’m not even sure I

believe it, but it sure was fun.”

The Bulls were talking about a collapse, not a comeback.

“This one stings,” Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We

stopped being aggressive, got a little complacent there and they

jumped on it. We’re not good enough to take a minute off, never

mind a half.”

The Bulls led 79-44 with 8:50 left in the third quarter, and

were still up 83-50 two minutes later before the Kings stole

momentum and, eventually, the game.

After Sacramento finished the third with a 19-5 run to make

it 88-69, Ime Udoka scored 15 of the Kings’ first 22 points in the

fourth quarter to cut it to 95-91 with 2:28 remaining.

Evans, the outstanding rookie guard from Memphis, then

personally outscored the Bulls 9-3 the rest of the way.

He converted a three-point play and, after Chicago’s Luol

Deng made a free throw, scored on a drive and hit a foul shot to

give the Kings their first lead since the opening minutes. Evans

then hit a 22-footer at the shot-clock buzzer to put Sacramento up


Derrick Rose made two free throws to cut it to 99-98 before

Evans hit one of two foul shots. After Rose missed a layup, Beno

Udrih clinched the win with two more free throws.

“I think we relaxed,” said Deng, who scored 26 points. “We

were making mistakes defensively. We were just not aggressive and

that carries over to offense. It’s frustrating.”

As the sellout crowd booed the Bulls off the court, Kings

owner Gavin Maloof celebrated.

“If they didn’t know who Tyreke Evans was, they know him

now,” he said. “It was magical.”

Evans followed Rose to Memphis, where each played only one

year of college ball before turning pro. Rose was last season’s

Rookie of the Year and Evans – one of just four NBA players

averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists – is a

front-runner for the award this season.

“I just kept attacking and never gave up,” Evans said.

The Bulls were almost perfect in the first quarter, shooting

71 percent, committing no turnovers, holding the Kings to 39

percent shooting and forcing seven giveaways. Chicago built a 67-43

lead by halftime and opened the second half with a 12-1 run that

seemingly put the game away.

But as the Bulls gradually came unglued – they were only 2

for 10 from the floor and committed nine turnovers in the fourth

quarter – Evans, Udoka and the Kings took control.

“This game was absolutely crazy,” ex-Bull Andres Nocioni

said. “I’ve played in many games with national teams and many games

in the NBA and I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t know if

we won the game or the Chicago Bulls lost the game.”

The despondent Del Negro knew.

“It was a matter of us not being smart at either end,” he

said. “It’s frustrating. It’s difficult. But what are you going to

do, put your head down and feel sorry for yourself? You’ve got to

go play.”

NOTES: Rose finished with 24 points and seven assists. …

Nocioni received a nice ovation when introduced before the game.

Acquired from Chicago last February, he was one of the Bulls’ most

popular players of the post-Michael Jordan years. “I’m fine with

Sacramento,” he said, “but I miss Chicago a lot.” … Bulls F Tyrus

Thomas, who broke a bone in his left forearm on Nov. 6, returned to

practice Sunday. Del Negro hopes Thomas will play Saturday against

New Orleans. … Deng has averaged 23 points while playing the last

four games with a small fracture in his left (non-shooting) thumb.