PRO BASKETBALL

No sympathy for short-handed Bulls

2013-12-16T21:15:00Z 2013-12-17T17:40:14Z No sympathy for short-handed BullsAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
December 16, 2013 9:15 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Watching Tom Thibodeau coach the injury-depleted Bulls is like watching home owners rebuild after a deadly storm.

The process is excruciatingly slow and painful.

Monday night, the Bulls faced a young and finally healthy Orlando Magic team that had lost 17 of its first 24 games and was 2-11 on the road.

The Bulls didn't make you rush out to buy game tickets, either, having lost 10 of their last 13.

Two free throws by Glen "Big Baby" Davis with 1.7 seconds remaining iced Orlando's 83-82 win as the Bulls' Mike Dunleavy nailed a meaningless half-court shot at the buzzer.

Arron Afflalo's 23 points topped the Magic, who led by as many as 17. Davis and Jameer Nelson added 14 apiece.

Luol Deng topped the Bulls with 26 points, but missed a layup with 1.7 seconds to go and the Magic nursing an 81-79 advantage.

"We played hard enough to win. Joe (Joakim Noah) made a great pass and I missed the layup. It's on me," Deng said.

Dunleavy and newly-acquired D.J. Augustin chipped in 14 points each for Chicago, with Augustin handing out eight assists as well. Carlos Boozer grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Joakim Noah had 13 points.

"We were down big and when we started grinding, we started playing a lot harder," Thibodeau said. "We came back and we had a shot at it."

Both teams were as cold as the night air outside the United Center — the Bulls shooting 35 percent, the Magic 39.8.

The Bulls were without point guard Kirk Hinrich (back) but Thibodeau insisted no one had lowered the lifeboats even though Mike James had been waived earlier in the day, Marquis Teague started at the point out of desperation, and Augustin would be counted on for some heavy minutes.

Missed layups were the killer on this night, for which Thibodeau surprisingly took full blame.

"Because my job is to make sure we're ready to make our layups," he said. "So we obviously have to work harder at practice on taking layups and making layups at game-time speed.

"I'm gonna put more into that, so that part is on me."

Thibodeau believes his Bulls have the mental toughness to break out of their funk.

"Every year you face new and different coaching challenges," Thibodeau said. "The big thing is not necessarily what happens to you, but how you respond, so our entire team is faced with a great challenge.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It's how we respond, the ability to get back up."

The Bulls lost their fourth straight game at the United Center since a five-game skid from March 1-19 of 2010.

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