After two games in two nights, including Saturday night’s 133-94 drubbing at the hands of the Spurs, the Bulls won’t take the practice court Sunday.
When they do on Monday for two days of practice before Wednesday night’s game in Oklahoma City, it will be like training camp all over again.
“We’ll see who wants to compete in practice the next couple of days,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Everything is up for grabs.”
Hoiberg, who didn’t absolve himself from those who need to improve, actually already made lineup changes, one unwillingly. Lauri Markkanen stepped on Rudy Gay’s foot near the end of the first half, spraining a left ankle that he first tweaked during Friday’s loss to the Pacers but played through.
Bobby Portis started the second half for Markkanen, who didn’t return and had his rookie streak of double-digit scoring games snapped at 10, one shy of Derrick Rose’s string from 2008-09.
“Not too bad,” Markkanen said. “We’ll do some treatment on the plane already and get some work in to get back as soon as possible. We have time to work on it. I’m sure it’s going to get better.”
If the Bulls are, effort must return and slow starts must disappear.
In suffering their worst loss in the 87-game history of this series and a season-high fourth straight loss, the Bulls trailed by as many as 41. And the Spurs also were finishing a back-to-back set, and played without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Joffrey Lauvergne and Derrick White.
Pau Gasol’s 21 points and 10 rebounds came in just 27 minutes.
Despite talking to Paul Zipser on Saturday afternoon about playing with confidence and making simple plays to exit his slump, the forward had more fouls (three) than points (two) and played just 7 minutes, 52 seconds. Kris Dunn started the second half for Zipser alongside Jerian Grant.
Another starter, Justin Holiday, shot just 1-for-10.
“There are a lot of things we need to assess over the next three days. It starts with me,” Hoiberg said. “I have to get our guys ready to play with the type of effort that it takes to give yourself a chance to win.
“I told every one of those guys to look themselves in the mirror to find out what they can do to help this team. Right now, we’re playing on both ends as individuals. We have to find a way to get that team ball back.”
Robin Lopez, who tied Portis with 17 points to lead the Bulls, agreed.
“The past three games, we’ve had terrible starts,” Lopez said. “We haven’t been playing with an edge or contagious communication that breeds hustle plays.”
There better be hustle in Monday’s practice.
“(Youth) shouldn’t factor in effort,” Hoiberg said. “If anything, that should be the constant every night — that you’re playing hard. We’ve done that for the most part this season except the last few games. It’s unacceptable.
“I can handle losing. But you have to play for your teammate. We’re not doing that right now.”
Layups: Hoiberg said Nikola Mirotic practiced shooting at the Advocate Center for the first time since Portis’ Oct. 17 punch knocked him out of action. “He’s continuing to get better and making progress every day,” Hoiberg said. Now comes the tricky part of assimilating him with Portis, which Mirotic has resisted at every overture to this point. … With so many players out, the Spurs started unheralded Bryn Forbes, who played four seasons of high school and two seasons at Michigan State with Denzel Valentine. The two have known each other since elementary school.