An admittedly displeased coach Paul Westphal pointed to two areas that crippled the Kings in their 108-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Power Balance Pavilion tonight - transition defense and free throws.
"It was pathetic the way we got back on defense," Westphal said. "If we just did that and made our free throws we win the game. That says a lot for our team, but it also says a lot that we need to do that, and just can't talk about it."
Westphal continued: "We believe we have a very good team, and we've waited long enough. We know we're not going undefeated, we know how good the Bulls are, but the guys in our locker room have to decide to go together into this incredibly difficult season that lies ahead. And then we'll see how good we can be."
After falling behind by 15 points early, the Kings closed to within 74-73 in the third quarter. But the Bulls promptly went on a 7-0 run and held off the Kings in the fourth, despite having Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose on the bench for stretches in foul trouble.
Rose scored 19 points, and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who shot 53.8 percent from the field and repeatedly found uncontested lay-ups or open jump shots in transition. Chicago scored 33 fast-break points.
Marcus Thornton had a game-high 20 points for the Kings, who had five players in double figures. DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
The Kings got to the free-throw line repeatedly but made only 20 of 34 free throws.
"We can play with the best team in the league - one of the best," said forward-center Chuck Hayes. "We can score on them, we can stop them. We have to do it for longer periods of time. And that's a commitment issue, that's an effort, that's an energy that we haven't grasped."
-- Matt Kawahara