A ringing cell phone has done what playing to save deposed coach Bill Cartwright's job didn't.
A mostly ridiculous off-the-court controversy has accomplished what coach Scott Skiles' call for increased intensity hasn'tmake the Bulls passionate.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, that passion only came in small bursts Friday night at Continental Airlines Arena.
It flared before the game, in comments by players, and then in a spirited comeback that settled into an 88-76 loss to New Jersey, the Bulls' fifth straight.
Jason Kidd's 59th career triple-double led the Nets, who also got 27 points from Richard Jefferson.
Kidd, who finished with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, now is tied with Larry Bird for fourth on the all-time list.
The passion with which players reacted to newspaper stories about Eddy Curry's cell phone ringing in the Detroit pregame locker room on Wednesday didn't translate to the court early.
Players were upset that the storyin which Kendall Gill angrily told Curry to shut off his ringing phone, which Eddie Robinson jokingly claimed he calledreceived such national attention.
"I felt bad," Curry said. "I wanted to shut it off. I just didn't get to it in time. Before [Marcus] Fizer threw it to me, the message alert went off again. Then I cut the phone off."
The Bulls' first-quarter ineptitude is almost beyond description.
They missed their first eight shotsincluding a wide-open dunk attempt by Tyson Chandlerand, astoundingly, 17 of their first 18.
They fell behind 9-0, didn't score for the first 4 minutes 22 seconds and didn't make their first field goal for 6:16 in their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season.
Their 10 points came on one assist.
But down by as many as 20, the Bulls took two leads late in the third quarter before fading with six fourth-quarter turnovers.
"I wish we'd play hard for 80 to 90 percent of every game instead of 50 or 60," Skiles said.
Nets interim coach Lawrence Frank now has as many victories in 22 games as the Bulls do in 65.
Still, the Bulls, who got 13 rebounds from Chandler and 10 from Linton Johnson (42 minutes) in his third straight double-digit effort, tried to put on a happy face.
"If we were in a funk, we wouldn't have bounced back the way we did," said Jamal Crawford, who scored 24 of his team-high 25 points in the second half. "We're showing we have heart."
Bits: Official Jess Kersey worked his first Bulls game since Skiles called him "a big baby" for ejecting Chandler from a Feb. 2 game in Seattle and then refusing to explain his action. Skiles drew a $7,500 fine for the comment. "I can't lose sight of my job just to focus on who is refereeing," Skiles said. Paul Shirley's 10-day contract expires on Sunday, which means he could be gone when the Bulls sign a backup point guard, still expected to be former Laker Jannero Pargo, who prepped at Robeson. "I've played as hard as I could," Shirley said. "I don't know if it's enough." Jerome Williams played only four minutes because of an ingrown toenail that required surgery last week. Former Bull Corie Blount signed with Toronto, even though he is ineligible for postseason play.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times