Pau Gasol returns with double-double to help Bulls beat Kings

CHICAGO -- Pau Gasol scored 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds on Monday in the Chicago Bulls' 109-102 win over the Sacramento Kings. Gasol had missed the previous four games because of right knee swelling.

"I felt good," Gasol said. "Energized. Moving pretty well. Not too much out of shape or out of rhythm. I'm glad I was very effective with the 24 minutes that I played, and I'm glad that I was able to help the team win, which are my two goals today."

Gasol said he would continue to be on a minutes limit "for a few more games."

"We'll see how the knee reacts," he said. "But so far, so good. I felt pretty well out there. We just got to monitor it -- one game at a time."

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said Gasol's return to the lineup was "huge."

"Pau is Pau," Rose said. "Coming in -- a walking double-double. Just his intelligence, his IQ of the game, it helps us out a lot, especially with the bigs that we have. We have young bigs, and he's the one that's talking to everyone."

Gasol's return to the lineup gave a big lift to a team in need of more wins down the stretch. The Bulls are a half-game behind the Indiana Pacers for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I think tonight was probably the second time all year we had our normal starting lineup out there," Bulls swingman Mike Dunleavy said. "And we didn't play great, but down the stretch we did. And that group's pretty good, so hopefully we can get healthy and we can stay healthy. That's always the key. Kind of round into form here and give ourselves a chance for the playoffs."

With Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson trying to get back alongside Dunleavy, Rose and Gasol, the Bulls are searching for a rhythm that has eluded them for most of the season. To make the playoffs, the Bulls must find a consistency that hasn't been there for months.

"We put ourselves in this position, and we got to find a way to get ourselves out." Rose said. "And I think that winning these three games will definitely help us, but we got, I think, 13 more to go."

Backup point guard E'Twaun Moore remains out because of a left hamstring injury. Coach Fred Hoiberg said Moore would not travel with the Bulls on their upcoming road trip to New York and Orlando. Backup center Cameron Bairstow is out with a back injury.