The Chicago Bulls haven’t won in Sacramento since Michael Jordan led them to their sixth NBA title. With the way the Kings are playing right now, Chicago may have its best opportunity to end that slide.
After snapping their longest losing streak of the season their last time out, the Bulls look for their first victory in Sacramento in 11 years Friday when they visit the lowly Kings.
Chicago (19-27) defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 95-75 on Wednesday to end a five-game losing streak. Four losses during the stretch came by five points or fewer.
The Bulls led by three at halftime, but outscored the Clippers 26-9 in the third quarter to blow the game open. Luol Deng led Chicago with 23 points and nine rebounds, while rookie Derrick Rose had 21 points and six of the team’s 31 assists.
“I thought our ball movement was the difference,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We had a good flow. Winning builds confidence, that’s the bottom line. We just have to build, play smarter, execute better down the stretch. I like our mind-set right now.”
The Bulls, with six victories in their last 19 games, are trying to string some wins together for a playoff push. Chicago is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, but only 1 1/2 games back of eighth-place Milwaukee.
On Jan. 6 in Chicago, the Bulls defeated the Kings 99-94 behind Ben Gordon’s 24 points and Rose’s 16 points and eight assists, but they’ve had no luck in Sacramento lately.
Chicago has dropped nine straight at Arco Arena since Jordan scored 33 points in a 103-88 win Nov. 23, 1997. The losing streak is the Bulls’ longest current one on an opponent’s home court.
The Kings, though, no longer own the significant home-court advantage they once did.
From 2000-01 through 2007-08, Sacramento had the league’s third-best home record at 241-87. Even last season, when the Kings finished in fourth in the Pacific Division, they went 26-15 at home.
The Kings, though, haven’t been able to maintain that strong play at home during a miserable season. At 10-37, Sacramento owns the worst record in the Western Conference, and it’s 7-15 at Arco in 2008-09.
The Kings are coming off Wednesday’s 119-100 loss at Boston, their seventh straight defeat and 19th in 22 games. Sacramento lost a season-high eight in a row Nov. 21-Dec.6.
Defense has been a big reason for the Kings’ troubles, as they’ve allowed an average of 120.4 points on 51.1 percent shooting in their last nine games. The Celtics shot 55.0 percent from the floor and went 9-of-13 from beyond the 3-point arc Wednesday.
“Bad teams tend not to be defensive,” Sacramento center Brad Miller said. “It takes a lot of energy to play defense and you know, we score but, you know, we can’t, we’re not outscoring anybody. It just has to be a whole team commitment to that end.”
Kevin Martin had 18 points Wednesday after scoring 35 in Tuesday’s 117-110 loss to Cleveland. Martin had 29 points in the loss to the Bulls earlier this month, and is averaging 28.5 points in his last four games against them.
Sacramento has lost all 20 games it’s played against East opponents, making it the only team that’s winless against an entire conference.