With two days to stew over a loss at Golden State, the Bulls' game plan against Sacramento was to be more aggressive.
Derrick Rose got the chatter started in the locker room following that loss. Coach Tom Thibodeau added that he wanted everyone to be more aggressive, not just Rose. That plan worked well for the most part Thursday night.
The Bulls were credited with 33 fastbreak points, more than they had in the first two games combined, and defeated the Kings 108-98. They'll finish off the season-opening road trip against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Friday night.
"The first five minutes of the game, we got out and got some easy baskets, but it was triggered off of our defense," Thibodeau told reporters after the contest. "That's the first priority, to get the defense established, and rebounding. That gets us in the open floor and makes the game a lot easier."
Rose led the Bulls (2-1) with 19 points. Carlos Boozer produced 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Richard Hamilton added a season-high 16 points. The Bulls shot 53.8 percent from the field.
The bench played well, with Ronnie Brewer scoring 12 points in 12 minutes and C.J. Watson collecting 9 assists.
The visitors piled up 11 fastbreak points in the opening six minutes, botched a few more fastbreak chances and raced to an early 26-11 advantage.
Sacramento (1-2) pulled within a point twice in the third quarter, the second time at 74-73 on a DeMarcus Cousins jumper with 4:20 left. The Bulls wasted no time creating some breathing room, finishing the quarter with an 11-2 run.
Watson started it with a 3-point basket, then a pair of hoops from Boozer gave the Bulls an 85-75 edge after three.
The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, despite both Rose and Joakim Noah picking up their fifth fouls. Sacramento made one more push and trailed by 7 when ex-Bull John Salmons missed an open 3-pointer after Noah knocked the ball loose from rookie Jimmer Fredette.
Luol Deng and Rose each hit a pair of free throws to boost the lead to 11 with less than a minute remaining. Guard Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 20 points.
The season-opening California swing has been all about reminding the Bulls that last season is over. They have to work themselves back into a championship contender, even with just one new face in the lineup, Hamilton.
"The difference between tonight's game and the Golden State game is at the start, I thought we tried to do the right things at Golden State," Thibodeau said. "But we turned the ball over and put them in the open floor, so we got in a hole right away.
"This game we came out and we were attacking and got the lead and played from ahead. We still have a long way to go, but I liked how we approached things."