Unlike after their record 56-point loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, though, the mood in the locker room after Monday's game was light. Wendell Carter Jr. and Cameron Payne joked with each other loudly, and Zach LaVine stayed to chat with reporters Monday after giving clipped comments before bolting Saturday.
It is too early to say that the Bulls have turned over a new leaf. After all, they have lost 13 of their past 15 games and are one day removed from players threatening to skip practice.
But Sunday's team meetings -- one a two-hour, players-only session and the other held with new coach Jim Boylen and staff in lieu of practice -- seemed to help the Bulls.
"Good, bad or ugly, I think that ordeal was good for the team," LaVine said, echoing the sentiment expressed by his teammates the past two days. "I think it made us closer."
Chicago came out strong in the first quarter Monday night, outscoring the Kings 33-26. There were times when it seemed like the team was finally having fun. LaVine threw down a right-handed dunk over Willie Cauley-Stein that cleared the Bulls' bench, and an animated Boylen pumped his fists on the sideline as Kris Dunn drove to the basket and drew a foul.
"I thought we had one of the better halves of the year in the first half," Boylen said. "We are just having a hard time sustaining the style we want to play for 48 minutes."
The Bulls struggled in the second half, and turnovers plagued them throughout the game. They finished with a season-high 27 turnovers. The Kings scored 31 points off Chicago turnovers.
Bobby Portis and Dunn returned to the Bulls' lineup after missing nearly seven weeks with MCL sprains. Dunn acknowledged that he had to shake off a little bit of rust, but both players were excited to be back on the floor. They were on minute restrictions Monday night, and Boylen said the Bulls would reassess the pair's minutes going forward after seeing how they feel Tuesday morning.
Boylen will host yet another practice Tuesday before the Bulls board an afternoon flight to Mexico City, where they play the Orlando Magic on Thursday.
Dunn thinks the trip could help with the Bulls' healing process.
"Definitely on the road we get to bond, and you have to come together even more because that's another thing. On the road, there's more adversity," Dunn said. "We're going to need each other, we're going to have to buy in, and we're gonna have to hoop."