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Amid complaints, a bitter end
The Bulls' night began with Eddie Robinson openly complaining about his lack of playing time, Marcus Fizer openly pining for the free-agent season and players still shaking their head over the release of Corie Blount.
It ended just as badly.
Seconds after Jamal Crawford had tied the game for the eighth time, Jamal Mashburn swished a turnaround three-pointer over Rick Brunson at the overtime buzzer to give Tim Floyd and his Hornets a 100-97 victory.
"That's 6-8 versus 6-3," Brunson said of their height disparities after switching onto Mashburn. "He just made a great play."
The Bulls are 0-4 while trying for their first three-game winning streak and 1-3 in overtime games.
Mashburn had missed two free throws with 14.9 seconds left in overtime to allow Crawford to tie the game on a three-pointer with 9.8 seconds left.
Crawford, who led all scorers with 34 points, missed two jumpers in the final 32 seconds of regulation, including a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
"It's bittersweet," Crawford said. "Our team played so hard."
In overtime the Bulls didn't score for the first 3:42 and missed their first six field-goal attempts. Mashburn's 27 points led New Orleans.
The Bulls almost overcame a dismal start that featured coach Scott Skiles burning a timeout 65 seconds after tipoff and Kirk Hinrich fouling out with 9:15 left in regulation. Hinrich had hassled Baron Davis into 3-for-13 shooting and some jawing that drew the players a double technical in the third.
Crawford's hot hand and solid bench play from Linton Johnson, Ronald Dupree and Brunson kept the Bulls in it despite fourth-quarter technicals on Skilesprotesting Hinrich's sixth fouland Eddy Curry.
Curry played with Blount's initials and number written on his shoes, reflecting the mood of a team that felt like it lost one of its best friends.
"It makes me feel great that my teammates feel that way," Blount said. "I loved playing with those guys. I hope to play with some of them [again]."
Some players weren't aware Bulls management had waived Blount after the deadline to sign with another team and be eligible for postseason play.
"I hate that," Tyson Chandler said. "That's not good. Corie's my man. He helped me through a lot of stuff. He helped everyone. On days when I came into the gym and felt like I couldn't take it, he was there for me. I was real upset to see him go."
Skiles said such feelings can't factor into personnel decisions, which will result in the signing of forward Paul Shirley from the ABA likely on Thursday.
"I've been through it myself where a trade has been made and it was somebody I was really friendly with," Skiles said. "That's part of pro sports. You give it its due. But then you do what you have to do."
Robinson and Fizer did what they felt they had to do in addressing their exclusion from the rotation. Robinson didn't play again and has logged 34.9 seconds of playing time in the last three games.
"It was all good just a week ago," a sarcastic Robinson said.
Fizer talked openly about possibly playing for Floydhis coach at Iowa State and with the Bullsand his upcoming restricted free-agent status.
"July 1 is the day I'm shooting for," Fizer said. "I can't wait. That's like Christmas to me.
"I won't be in Chicago, I know that. Just look how things are going. Look how things have been. I have to be honest about the situation. I have to feed my family."
Kendall Gill didn't travel and missed his second straight game with a sore right Achilles. Skiles said the guard is expected to play Saturday in Philadelphia.