Chicago Bulls

Another dismal performance for Bulls in 108-97 loss to Bucks

Pick a low moment, any low moment.

Jabari Parker put Robin Lopez on a poster with a fast-break dunk. Giannis Antetokounmpo routinely broke down the defense with little resistance. Heck, even Tony Snell dunked for his first points against his former team.

The Bulls’ 108-97 loss to the Bucks on Thursday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center is the kind of effort, or lack thereof for three quarters, that should embarrass everyone involved — players, coaches, management.

Until a fourth-quarter rally, the Bulls played with little pace offensively, consistently got beat in transition defense and took care of the ball like it had chemicals on it. They allowed 18 fast-break points and committed 17 turnovers, which the Bucks converted into 25 points.

Worse, until the fourth-quarter flurry dropped what had once been a 27-point deficit to eight, the Bulls, who trailed the entire game, played with little passion.

The performance came in stark contrast to the strong chemistry and joy that defined games earlier this season. And it followed a loss in which they coughed up a 21-point lead at home.

“The meetings that we had the last two days, I would’ve hoped we would’ve solved playing the half-game,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We played the fourth quarter the way you have to play the entire game. We’ll continue to stress it.”

Nikola Mirotic didn’t play by coach’s decision for the first time in his three NBA seasons. The Bulls bench got outscored for the 14th time in 15 games. Doug McDermott didn’t attempt a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter as the Bulls were outscored 33-15 from beyond the arc.

And on and on and on.

“They exposed us,” Hoiberg said. “We talk about the things you have to do to survive, and that’s take care of the ball and get back in transition. They were too comfortable early.”

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 30 points, while Parker added 28.

Jimmy Butler’s 21 points led the Bulls. Wade had 20 but committed four turnovers.

“I’m not concerned,” Wade said to a question about the Bulls, not his play. “I’ve been through everything. You might want to ask somebody else that. I’m learning this team, learning these guys. I’m fine. Obviously, there are things you see happening in games you want to correct. But you have to go through the process.”

Wade, minus-28 on the night, kick-started the fourth-quarter rally with scoring and playmaking. The Bulls actually had a chance to trim the deficit to six, but Antetokounmpo and John Henson swatted Butler’s layups on consecutive possessions with just more than two minutes left.

“We seem to (scramble) a lot, whether we seem to dig a big hole or build a big lead and give it up,” Butler said. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

Hoiberg hinted at rotation changes after Wednesday’s practice and then delivered. Bobby Portis, who hadn’t played by coach’s decision four straight games, played over Mirotic and finished with six points and six rebounds in close to 23 minutes.

“Just the way we went,” Hoiberg said.

And Denzel Valentine took the first backup guard minutes over Isaiah Canaan and Jerian Grant. He posted five points on 1-for-6 shooting in nearly 19 minutes.

The teams play again Friday in Chicago. Which Bulls team will show up?

At this point, that’s anybody’s guess.

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