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Playing hard not enough for Bulls
As early as Thursday, coach Scott Skiles had a good feeling about his Bulls team, predicting it would play hard and well against Sacramento.
But effort doesn't always equal execution.
The Bulls suffered breakdowns at critical times Friday night at the United Center, reverting to blown assignments on offense and missed rebounds on defense.
The Kings took advantage, showing why they possess the league's best record after posting a 91-83 victory with a short-handed squad.
Who needs Brad Miller, Chris Webber, Tony Massenburg or Bobby Jackson when you have Darius Songaila?
In a painful example of the Kings' depth, Songaila snuck inside Tyson Chandler to keep a critical Kings' possession alive with an offensive rebound, then tipped home Mike Bibby's miss on the same possession for a six-point lead with 26 seconds left.
The Bulls outrebounded Sacramento 51-44, but a key board got away.
"I had to go for the block and challenge Bibby," Chandler said. "I altered it. He missed. But we didn't come up with the rebound. We have to get familiar with each other out there."
Songaila, making only his third career start, finished with a career-high 11 rebounds.
"We made him look very physical," Skiles said.
Miller sat with a sprained foot, Webber didn't enter the building because of a league suspension, Massenburg got food poisoning and Jackson left in the second quarter with an abdominal strain.
Peja Stojakovic still suited up, going scoreless in the fourth but managing a game-high 24 points and drawing loud cheers from the raucous crowd of 20,172.
So did Bibby, who finished with 17 points and eight assists and buried a dagger of a jumper in Kirk Hinrich's face for an 87-81 lead. "He caught me with my hands down for one second," Hinrich said.
The Bulls never went away, getting 23 points from Jamal Crawford, 15 points and 10 assists from Hinrich and an inspired, 16-point reserve effort from Eddie Robinson.
Marcus Fizer saw his first action in three games and had two rebounds in nine minutes.