It was Star Wars night at the United Center, so might as well say it: After a rough loss in Milwaukee the previous night, it was time to see if the Bulls could strike back in the rematch.
The answer was no and the Bulls' performance was equal to those three horrible prequels all wrapped into one. Yes, it was that bad.
The Bulls fell behind early, shot a dismal 30.4 percent from the field and were swamped again 95-69 on Friday. The only differences from the game at Milwaukee was this time, the Bulls made no fourth-quarter comeback and shattered their season-low for points.
The time is appropriate for a crisis in confidence. The Bulls have dropped three in a row and are 3-7 since the end of the circus road trip. Asked if the Bulls could use a team meeting, Jimmy Butler flatly rejected the plan.
"That's all hype. We know what we're capable of," he said. "We know what to do. Go out there, execute and do what we're supposed to be doing. You don't need to sit in a circle and hold each others hands and talk about all of that.
"We don't talk that much out there on the floor that's where our problem begins. We have to help each other, be vocal. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves and sit in a circle and pat each other on the back."
Coach Fred Hoiberg talked about figuring things out collectively and sticking together, which worked well early in the season.
"These guys, they genuinely like each other and we've got to find a way to do it as a group," Hoiberg said. "Coaches, players, we're all accountable. It starts with me. I've got to get us playing more consistently. Again, it's a big day on Sunday to try to get things corrected (in practice)."
There were plenty of problems for the home team, but it started with rotten offense. When the Bulls couldn't score, Milwaukee was able to push the tempo and with superior athletes in the lineup, the Bucks usually either scored on the break or got the Bulls hopelessly mismatched on defense and took advantage.
The offensive failures were spread between a lack of movement on offense, bricking easy shots and getting spooked by Milwaukee's long-armed defenders.
The Bulls had another rough night from the 3-point line, going 5 for 21, compared to the Bucks' 10 for 25. That's a 15-point swing right there.
Boos weren't overwhelming, but they could be heard late in the first half and again at the end of the game. The Bulls trailed 34-15 after one quarter, while Dwyane Wade was the team's high-scorer with 12 points.
"Don't nobody come out to watch us get beat the way we got beat," Butler said. "The way that we've been playing, that's unacceptable. Especially for this city. We understand that. We want to be better. Off nights happen. I'm never going to say we weren't competing."
Hoiberg used essentially the same rotation as the previous night. Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine got the call with the reserves, while Nikola Mirotic and Isaiah Canaan stayed on the bench. The Bulls scored just 4 points off the bench in the first half.
Mirotic missed the Bulls' pregame walk-through Friday and did not see any action for the second straight night. Canaan played in the fourth quarter, along with Paul Zipser and Jerian Grant.
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