The Bulls' Joakim Noah puts up a shot against the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday night. The Bulls won 95-75 to end a five-game skid.
SACRAMENTO - The Bulls seemed to be in a jovial mood during Thursday's practice at the Sacramento Kings' facility. Obviously, there was a feeling of relief after snapping a five-game losing streak with a 95-75 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
It was the largest margin of victory this season for the Bulls and their first blowout win since beating Phoenix 100-83 on Nov. 7.
Team captain Kirk Hinrich surveyed the scene as the noisy workout ended and the players began shooting free throws.
"We had a good practice today," he said. "Our practice habits have gotten better the last few weeks."
Coach Vinny Del Negro mentioned the same thing recently. Asked why that happened, Hinrich suggested a few different reasons.
"I think coach just told us, 'We need to have better practice sessions,' " Hinrich said. "I think you have to come out here and compete. Obviously, there are days you rest your legs. But when we come in here, compete and work on what we're trying to do offensively and defensively. It's been good when we've done that."
Hinrich admitted that the team's slump toward the end of December may have been a wake-up call. The Bulls are just 5-9 in January but have lost five games either in overtime or by fewer than 6 points. From Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, they went 1-6 with all the losses by at least 10 points.
"Maybe we were a little bit - I don't know how to say it - maybe we had a false sense of how good we were," Hinrich said. "As a team, we know what we have to do to win games. It's just a matter of going out and doing it as far as the energy we need to bring, playing together and helping one another."
Hughes stays ready: At the end of Wednesday's 20-point win over the Clippers, coach Vinny Del Negro sent in Lindsey Hunter and Cedric Simmons for the last 2 1/2 minutes. Hunter hadn't played since Jan. 10, the last game before Kirk Hinrich returned from a thumb injury.
Guard Larry Hughes stayed on the bench for the eighth straight game. Del Negro didn't ask him to go in and Hughes wouldn't have wanted to play in garbage time.
While his agent, Jeff Wechsler, has been given permission to facilitate a trade, Hughes did say Wednesday he's willing to take the court if asked.
"If they call my name, I'm going to play," he said. "I haven't shut down. There's still a lot of season left. Mentally, I'm in it. I continue to work out. The only thing I'm not doing right now is playing in the games.
"I get dressed every game with the mindset of 'you never know.' If you put yourself in a position to have a chance to win, I'm always willing to step out there and contribute."
Ex-Bull coaches Kings: Former Bulls guard Randy Brown is now an assistant coach with Sacramento and poked his head into the gym Thursday after the Bulls had finished practice. Brown, a Chicago native, was on the Bulls' second three championship teams from 1996-98.
"I love it," Brown said of coaching. "It's what I dreamed about a long, long time ago. It just so happened it happened right where it all began. The Kings drafted me, so it was the right situation to come back."
Asked if he's doing a good job, Brown gave a half-serious response about his coaching talents.
"I think I'm an excellent coach and I'm going to be a head coach one day," he said. "If not, I'm going to be very upset with myself. I learned from too many good coaches already."