CHICAGO (AP)—The Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best season in more than a decade, and they’re trying not to get too fixated on where all this success might lead.
“It’s fun,” Rose said. “I can’t complain about anything right now. We’re winning games, playing good basketball and the city is going crazy.”
The win gave the Bulls (50-19) their first 50-win season since 1997-98 and allowed Chicago to remain tied with Boston atop the Eastern Conference. The Celtics beat the New York Knicks on Monday.
That 1997-98 edition of the Bulls won the NBA championship, the last of six titles the franchise won in the 1990s. When that was pointed out to Rose, he said the team is trying not to get too far ahead of itself.
“We’re trying to win one game at a time,” Rose said. “Of course, we’d like to win (a title). We still have a lot of things to work on before we get there.”
Boozer scored 16 points in his return to the Bulls’ lineup after missing five games with a sprained left ankle.
“First game back, I thought (Boozer) was very good,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought he actually scored a lot more efficiently than I thought he would.
“He missed a lot of time and he got basically one practice. I thought it was very encouraging.”
Boozer led a balanced Bulls attack that had eight players scoring in double figures in a game that was not close after the first period.
“It felt great,” Boozer said of his ankle. “I was happy with how strong it was through the course of the game. I was also happy to get a lot of rest in the fourth quarter.”
“I love the balance,” Thibodeau said. “We’re inside-out, keeping the ball moving, making the extra pass.”
With the game well in hand, Thibodeau had the luxury of resting his top players. Rose played just 28 minutes, his lowest total of the season. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“I know you guys are all concerned about the minutes,” Thibodeau said. “Getting the minutes down was good.”
The Bulls shot 61.3 percent from the field. More aggressive from the outset, Chicago forced 22 Sacramento turnovers and held a 36-7 edge in fastbreak points. The Bulls set a season high for points.
“The more we can get into the open floor, the better,” Thibodeau said. “Getting the easy baskets makes the game easier.”
“We turn the ball over and they go get a layup,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “That’s not a breakdown in defense, but pretty soon they’re shooting 61 percent for the game and they’re wearing us out. You can’t keep turning the ball over the way we do it against a great team like the Bulls.
“I think they have legitimate championship aspirations. They’re in the conversation with four or five other teams.”
“DeMarcus’ turnovers stand out tonight,” Westphal said. “However, he is a young, gifted player who has a few things to learn about decision-making.”
The high-scoring Thornton has scored 20 or more points in nine of Sacramento’s last 12 games.
“We tried to chip away in the second half, but they turned the defense up again on us and we kind of ran out of gas,” Thornton said. “They’re a great defensive team. Defense wins championships. They’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs.”
The Bulls have won 13 straight at the United Center, their longest home winning streak since 1997-98. At 31-4, the Bulls have the NBA’s second-best home record behind San Antonio (32-3).
Chicago led by as many as 25 in the third period, reaching that advantage when Bogans lobbed a pass toward the rim on a fastbreak and Rose flew in from the baseline and dunked it with both hands.
Sacramento, which entered averaging more turnovers (16.1) than all but two NBA teams, had 12 miscues in the first 18 minutes, leading to 19 Chicago points.
Notes: Chicago mascot “Benny the Bull” celebrated his birthday. He was joined by mascots flown in from other teams as party of a halftime party. … The win might have helped the Bulls overcome the painful memory of Sacramento’s last visit to Chicago. On Dec. 21, 2009, the Kings erased a 35-point third quarter deficit and beat Chicago 102-98. It was the NBA’s biggest comeback in over 13 years. … The 1997-98 Bulls won their 50th game on March 20, one day before this year’s Bulls reached that mark. … This is the 14th time in franchise history that the Bulls have won 50 or more games. … The Bulls improved to 38-2 when holding teams under 95 points or less this season.