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Bulls' performance Jekyll-Hyde act
At 12-29 after a dreadful 93-83 loss to Washington on Monday at the MCI Center, the Bulls are three games behind last season's pace and nowhere near Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's publicly stated goal of making the playoffs.
General manager John Paxson has changed coaches and players, but still the Bulls are looking down at only Atlanta and Orlando. They are looking ahead possibly to more changes because this, players and coaches agree, is unacceptable.
"I totally didn't expect this season to be like this," Kendall Gill said. "But it is. You have to deal with reality and try to turn things around. The only way from here is up."
That is, unless the Bulls play like they did in Monday's second half.
After leading by 18 in the first half and 58-43 at halftime, the Bulls stopped sharing the ball. They stopped playing defense.
On certain possessions, most glaringly an offensive rebound that Jarvis Hayes grabbed over Eddy Curry, they gave up.
"It's very clear that the second something starts to not go right, our guys immediately revert to some bad habits," coach Scott Skiles said. "That's a confidence thing."
The Bulls don't have much of it, not after surrendering a game-closing 18-2 run to a Wizards team playing without Jerry Stackhouse, Gilbert Arenas and Christian Laettner.
Hayes had 12 points and a season-high 14 rebounds. Larry Hughes led Washington with 25 points.
"This is the worst [loss]," Jamal Crawford said. "It wasn't like we were up 18 against the Lakers or Kings, who can put a run together. We were up 18 against the Wizards. We have to finish those games."
Crawford led the Bulls with 19 points but shot 1-for-10 in the second half.
Kirk Hinrich had 15 points and eight assists at halftime but didn't score or dish out an assist in the second half.
Curry had more turnovers (four) than rebounds (three). Asked how that happens, Skiles shook his head.
"I don't know," he said.
The Bulls had 19 assists at halftime and three in the second half.
"Obviously, our ball movement came to a standstill," Skiles said.
And on and on and on.
"It's the same old story," Skiles said. "As well as we played in the first half, we played the exact opposite in the second. They started pressuring us, and we resorted to going off on our own and jacking up shots."
Crawford jacked up possibly the worst, just after Washington had pulled into an 81-81 tie. With 3 minutes 35 seconds left, he forced a shot early in the shot clock, then was scored on by Juan Dixon at the other end. Dixon finished with 17.
"It's embarrassing," Crawford said. "Basically, there's no other way to put it."
So what now? Where do the Bulls go from here?
Tuesday will bring practice in Atlanta and a continued quest to change a losing culture and mind-set that has thoroughly infested a once-proud franchise.
"It's tough," said Scottie Pippen, who was part of the proud days. "Right now we're playing not to lose. When you get in that problem, it puts you on your heels. We're on our heels a lot."