Between the lines, the NBA doesn't do sympathy, whether your franchise has just two victories in January or it's merely tired and sick.
The Bulls know this as well as anyone, given the six very lean seasons they have endured.
Now that the doldrums are being lifted slowly in this lengthy rebuilding process, the Bulls did to the Hornets what countless teams have done to themkicked a team that's down.
Or maybe nudged.
Kirk Hinrich's 19 points and 17 from Eddy Curry led the Bulls to a 95-89 victory Wednesday night at New Orleans Arena, dropping the Hornets to 2-28 on a night when a tired-and-sick Bulls team had plenty of available excuses.
The Bulls didn't arrive in their local hotel rooms until 4 a.m.and Bourbon Street wasn't even to blame. A hellacious travel day Tuesday left the Bulls looking sluggish and bleary-eyed.
Also, Eddy Curry's illness is sweeping through the team and coaching staff. Seldom-used guard Frank Williams stayed in Chicago and many other players were hacking and wheezing.
New Orleans looked like the infected team through three quarters, trailing by as many as 14. But a 14-3 Hornets run to open the fourth tied it 78-78 before Hinrich swished a jumper that started a 5-0 Bulls run with 7 minutes, 10 seconds left.
"When teams made runs earlier this year or last year, we played not to lose," Hinrich said. "This year, we're playing to win and with confidence."
Tyson Chandler came up with a huge block of a Rodney Rogers layup with 2:03 left as the Bulls made plays down the stretch, including free throws from Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.
"Those blocks can deplete a team," said Chandler, who had five.
Curry played 37 minutes and added nine rebounds despite battling severe congestion that sidelined the center last game. He dived on the floor to secure an important loose ball late.
"I feel terrible," Curry said, a reversal from his pregame stance. "I was shocked I could play that much. But it's a great win."
Indeed, the Bulls overcame 21 turnovers, strengthening their hold on their league lead in that department.
The old reliablesveterans Othella Harrington, Eric Piatkowski and Adrian Griffinall made appearances and unsung contributions as coach Scott Skiles stretched his rotation because of the fatigue factor.
The Bulls were in the rare position of being favored. With upcoming home games against sliding Utah and middling Boston, this might not be the last time. The players sensed the opportunity, speaking confidently despite their health and fatigue problems.
"You can't let that be an excuse," Hinrich said. "We all tried to get extra rest [Wednesday] afternoon and then it's up to us to play well. We believe we can play with anybody."
A narrow victory over a two-win team isn't the prettiest line on the resume. But given the factors, a win is a win.
"This has been a group that normally battles through any difficulties," Skiles said.