Scott Skiles didn't feel the pain of last season's 3-38 road record directly, unless DirecTV counts. Even then, Skiles could change the channel.
These days, Skiles is trying to change the Bulls' fortunes on the road, but his first try brought direct and firsthand pain Thursday night in a bitter 83-82 loss to the 76ers.
Allen Iverson scored 35 points and provided the game-winning points with a stone-cold jumper over Kirk Hinrich with 47.2 seconds remaining.
That doesn't cover the bitterness.
The Bulls failed to score over the final 2:06 and twice failed to complete an inbounds pass in the final 4.1 seconds.
Inserted into the game for that purpose, rookie Linton Johnson had one pass intended for Jamal Crawford deflected by Eric Snow. The Bulls kept possession when Aaron McKie knocked the loose ball out of bounds.
With 1.6 seconds remaining, Hinrich broke free under the basket, but Johnson's wild pass banked off the backboard and into Iverson's hands at the final buzzer.
"The guy who was guarding me took away our initial action, which was to throw it to Eddy Curry," Johnson said. "At that time, we had to create something. Jamal popped out, but then I saw Eric Snow's hand.
"[On the next one], Kirk and I made eye contact. He was so wide open. I just got anxious and threw it overaggressively."
The Bulls have had a crash course under Skiles, who still is learning the strengths and weaknesses of his new team.
"I still feel a little odd because both other times I've been a head coach, I was on the team and knew the team," Skiles said of his stints in Greece and with the Phoenix Suns. "I'm sure there are times where I'm putting guys in unfair positions. I won't as time goes on and I get to know the team.
"I thought Jamal was open for a split second, but I'll have to look at it on tape. We have had special situations that we haven't gotten into with enough detail yet. Ultimately, that's my responsibility."
The loss, in which the Bulls squandered an 11-point, third-quarter lead, wasted a solid defensive effort in an extremely physical game before 17,716 at Wachovia Center.
For the second straight game under Skiles, Crawford and Hinrich played the entire fourth quarter. Crawford led the Bulls with 22 points, while Hinrich added an NBA-high 14. Each had five assists.
Hinrich also shadowed Iverson for most of his 27 minutes and was practically inside his shirt on the game-winner.
"That was a tough shot," Hinrich said. "I tried to challenge it. But I didn't want to foul him because he usually sticks his leg out and he likes to flop.
"That's what big-time players do. They hit big shots. It's real frustrating."
So was the third quarter, in which the Bulls committed five turnovers and surrendered an 11-0 run with Iverson scoring seven points.
"When I look at [film], I'm going to find a five-minute stretch in the third where we just came unglued," Skiles said.
For the second straight game, Marcus Fizer stayed glued to the bench and didn't play.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times