The Bulls are on their first four-game losing streak of the season and coach Fred Hoiberg announced that Monday’s and Tuesday’s practices would feature competition for starting jobs.
But injuries to Zach LaVine and David Nwaba have limited Hoiberg’s options other than the constant battle at point guard between Jerian Grant and Kris Dunn and possibly replacing small forward Paul Zipser with Denzel Valentine.
“Right now, we’re playing harder in practices than we are in games,” Hoiberg said. “That’s going to have to change.”
Poor starts have plagued the Bulls in three of the four losses in the current streak, as they faced double-digit deficits in the first quarter.
“I am seeing a little lack of confidence right now, but we’ve got to find a way to fix that,” Hoiberg said. “When I look at the overall body of work — going back to the summer and September when everybody was back and (in) training camp — we were very competitive. We were playing at a very high level getting into our preseason. Guys were rising up with confidence, making shots.
“When we don’t shoot the ball well right now, we’re not bringing the energy we need on the other end of the floor. So it’s about building that confidence back up.”
Body count: Lauri Markkanen worked out on an elliptical machine but sat out practice Monday after suffering a minor left ankle sprain during Saturday’s game in San Antonio. Hoiberg said Markkanen doesn’t have much swelling, and there’s optimism he could practice Tuesday.
Nwaba, who is out two to four weeks with a severely sprained ankle, also could take the court Tuesday for some non-contact action.
Justin Holiday missed practice Monday for personal reasons.
Layups: Bobby Portis said the buy-in remains high despite the four-game skid but did offer this observation: “I feel sometimes we don’t take pride in our individual matchups. Sometimes teams come in and say, ‘Aw, we’re just playing the Bulls, it’s going to be a cupcake game.’ I’m not used to that. Not going to get used to that.” … The BIG3 three-on-three league for retired players announced former Bull Ron Artest has signed to play and be a co-captain with Stephen Jackson on the Killer 3s next season. Artest plans to use his former name after legally changing his name to Metta World Peace.
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