Three-game losing streaks don't constitute a trend. Neither do zero fourth-quarter minutes in back-to-back games.
But both the Bulls and Eddy Curry weren't in a good place Saturday night as the team bus motored down Interstate Highway 94 back to Chicago, a 95-87 loss to Milwaukee in their rearview mirror, another benching clouding the fourth-year center's mind.
The Bulls collapsed at the most inopportune time, failing to score for seven straight fourth-quarter possessions over 3 minutes 58 seconds as Milwaukee ripped off a late 13-0 run. But all the on-court action paled in comparison to the off-the-court intrigue in the postgame locker room.
That's where a torn Curry alternated between voicing his frustration and compliance, stating publicly for the first time that Chicago might not be his ideal setting when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
"Eventually, you do have to take a second look at things and think if it's the right place for you and your family," Curry said. "You start questioning a lot of stuff when you're in the position I'm in. I'm a part of this team now.
"I'll try my hardest to do what I can to help us win. If that's cheering from the bench, then that's what I have to do. But it's definitely frustrating."
Don't forget that general manager John Paxson consistently has said the Bulls will match any offers for Curry, who finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Still, for the second straight game, Curry was yanked early in the third quarter.
Friday night in San Antonio, he played 63 second-half seconds and, overall, 15 minutes with zero rebounds. Against Milwaukee, he lasted 1:55 into the second half and logged 16 minutes overall.
"Four turnovers in 16 minutes was probably enough, coupled with a lot of the [Bucks'] activity around the basket [that] he was very slow to react to," said coach Scott Skiles, who turned 41 Saturday. "He's available. We're just choosing to go in another direction."
That included when Othella Harrington fouled out with 3:18 remaining and the score tied 80-80. Skiles opted for Tyson Chandler, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Still, Chandler isn't the low-post presence Curry is, who might have benefited from Kirk Hinrich (24 points) and Ben Gordon (20 points) stretching the defense.
"Who would that be?" Skiles countered when asked if he considered inserting a low-post presence. "In all of our charting of Eddy's post-up plays, that's not really where he scores. He scores on opportunity baskets, people penetrating and kicking to him and lobs. He has to be more productive on his touches."
Curry countered that sporadic playing time exacerbates that problem.
"It's tough to get my body going when you only play 16 minutes," Curry said. "I just hope this is something we can work through, especially at this point in the season so we can win some games."
Curry reacted strongest when questioned if he believes he has a shorter leash than most players.
"Oh, man, definitely," he said. "I try not to think that way because I realize we have a lot of young guys on the team. [Skiles] definitely gives them a little more leeway and he should because they are younger players. But for the most part, everybody should be treated the same on this team.
"I don't know, man. It's a tough situation. I don't want to start up any controversy. I love playing for this team and for coach Skiles. I just hope we can resolve this situation before it gets too bad. But I definitely feel I deserved an opportunity to get back in the game. I feel like a player should be allowed to make more than one mistake."
Desmond Mason led Milwaukee with 20 points. Joe Smith added 10 points and 16 rebounds and Maurice Williams had 16 points and 11 assists.
The Bulls, who have lost 14 straight times at the Bradley Center, the scene where they also made NBA history in 1996 with their 70th victory, committed 19 turnovers and allowed 17 offensive rebounds.
"It's tough to win when you do that," Skiles said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times