Dwyane Wade missed the Bulls’ Friday morning shootaround with a migraine.
By nightfall, his teammates would be sharing in the pain.
A brutal second quarter spelled doom for the Bulls as they fell below .500 for the first time this season after a 103-91 loss to the Hornets dropped them to 14-15.
Jimmy Butler scored 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting, and Nikola Mirotic had 10 rebounds, but the reality is that no Bull played all that well.
They did go down fighting, sort of.
With the Bulls trailing 98-89 with 38 seconds to play, the Hornets’ Marvin Williams approached center Robin Lopez to set a screen. Lopez responded with not just one elbow, but two — clearing out both Williams and Cody Zeller.
“It was pretty contentious,” Lopez said afterward. “Basketball is a passionate game. I play with passion.”
That “passion” got Lopez a flagrant foul (penalty 2) and an ejection. Lopez does not expect a suspension from the league.
“I’m expecting to play the next game,” he said. “I thought I put out my forearm; I didn’t think I extended.”
While the officials were reviewing the play, Taj Gibson earned his second technical of the night and his third career ejection.
So it spelled an ugly end to a frustrating night.
“I’ll have to go back and watch the film and see what transpired,” coach Fred Hoiberg. “That is very unlike Robin to lose his cool like that.
“Our competitive spirit was good tonight, but obviously in the second quarter we lost our way.”
Mirotic (5 of 16) looked indecisive, at one point pump-faking on a 3-point attempt with no one around him.
“I told him: ‘Everyone on the bench believes in you. You have to step up and shoot that ball when you have the open one,'” Hoiberg said. “He missed a couple and it’s human nature as a shooter to start thinking. You can’t play that way. You have to rise up with confidence and knock it down.”
Wade, who has a history of migraines, shot 5 of 16 and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Wade said it was his first migraine of the season.
“I’m happy with this being my first one,” he said. “Hopefully I won’t have another for a long time. I’m doing well. Felt good enough to try to help my team get a win, gut it out.”
The Bulls are 1-5 since blowing a 21-point home lead to Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves on Dec. 13. Whatever mojo or confidence they had appears to have been lost.
“It has to be more complete,” Hoiberg said before the game of his team’s play. “We talk about that all the time, and now we have to start acting on it.”
The Bulls shot 6-for-23 in the second quarter and were outscored 26-14.
During a 15-0 Hornets run, Doug McDermott was whistled after missing a short jumper. The officials caught McDermott kicking out his right leg on the jump shot, striking Nicolas Batum.
The third quarter ended in dismal fashion: Butler dribbled the clock down before making his move. But he passed up a shot, feeding McDermott near the top of the key. McDermott took a dribble and could not squeeze off a shot before the buzzer.
Down 84-74, Butler turned it over. And then after a defensive stop, Mirotic let the ball go off his leg.
It was that kind of night.