STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
The Kings will likely again start Luther Head, Tyreke Evans, Donte Greene, Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert. Everyone should be available, although Francisco Garcia was not available on Thursday.
The Bulls, who lost last night in Denver after winning a double-OT game in Phoenix Wednesday, usually roll with Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. Rose missed Friday's game with a sore neck, but should be in action tonight. Off the bench, the Bulls bring Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik and James Johnson.
The Bulls, despite the loss of Carlos Boozer in preseason, are sitting pretty in the No. 3 spot in the East, just ahead of Atlanta and Miami. Led by new coach Tom Thibodeau, they've done well by focusing on (surprise!) defense, currently sitting at ninth in the league. The offense hasn't been too shabby either (17th) considering a roster lacking in firepower due to Boozer's absence; Rose is the only real creator here, and while Deng can score and Korver can shoot, so much is left to Rose. Thankfully for Chicago, he's excelled early this season. Without that, the Bulls wouldn't be where they are.
The Bulls' shot defense is solid, and its only real defensive weakness is that the team (mostly Gibson and the bench bigs) fouls a bit much. On offense, it's all about the offensive boards for Chicago, with both Noah (an amazing rebounder) and Gibson doing damage there. Korver is the only deadly threat from long-range, but Deng and Rose are fantastic mid-range shooters, too.
Dalembert is going to have plenty of opportunities to swat back Rose. Also, he is going to have plenty of opportunities to goaltend, or foul Rose. We'll see which way the cookie disintegrates.
Attacking Noah isn't always the best plan of action -- he and Gibson block shots at a decent clip, and Noah doesn't foul. As such, attacking Gibson with Landry and leaving Noah on the weakside might be smarter. Of course, getting the rock to Landry PERIOD is smarter than what the Kings have been doing. Brewer and Rose play the passing lanes very well, which means they'll get some easy steals against the Kings should the Kings remain completely unfocused. Deng is a lot stronger than Greene, so there's some worry the Bulls will attempt to expose that; in that case, Paul Westphal may actually have no option better than slotting Jason Thompson some minutes there.
When Chicago goes to its bench, the Kings have to make a push. Rose and Noah are so much better than their replacements that Sacramento's only hope is to make up ground (or push a lead) then.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Head/Evans vs. Rose/Bogans. Evans and Rose won't likely match up much -- Bogans is in there to defend for Thibodeau, so he'll be guarding Reke while Head will almost assuredly take on Rose. But each team counts on its lead guard to provide the spark on offense. Rose has been accomplishing that. Evans? Not so much. I'd be willing to wager that the first guard to 20 will tell us which team wins. (If Bogans is the first guard to 20, I'm going to cry.)
PLAYER TO WATCH
Carl Landry. Get him the ball. Frequently. Watch him score. Frequently.
7 PM on Comcast SportsNet, WGN (for you unfortunate Dish Network souls) and KHTK 1140 AM. Also, good tickets available for cheap.
The posting for Day No. 2 of the StR Book Giveaway Game will be up around 1:30 PM. I'll add the link here when it's up. Odds for the game unavailable early Saturday morning. No Giveaway Game entry today -- it's 4:30 and still no odds. Blargh.
Game threads at 7 and 8:30. Let's go Kings.