Sloppy night: Worst loss, worse effort

Chicago BullsSportsBasketballChris DuhonDwyane WadeAlonzo MourningTyrus Thomas

Alonzo Mourning has spent more hours in the weight room than Tyrus Thomas has in the NBA.

So you would have to like the chiseled 14-year veteran's chances in the tussle those players appeared headed for in the latest chapter to this chippy Bulls-Heat rivalry.

Cooler heads, not to mention the Heat, prevailed.

And in the perfect metaphor for a briefly scrappy but overwhelmingly sloppy Bulls effort, Thomas returned to attack the rim with a dunk only to be spectacularly snuffed by Mourning the next trip down.

A rivalry takes two teams to participate, and the Bulls didn't show up in a 103-70 blowout loss Wednesday night, their worst of the season.

Miami's victory snuffed the Bulls' attempt to sweep the season series for the first time since 1991-92 and made the Bulls' first three victories in this series feel like a distant memory.

"That was a message, loud and clear," coach Scott Skiles said. "They came to play. We didn't."

The Bulls had shocked the Heat with a 42-point drubbing on opening night, then won two home games in which Shaquille O'Neal didn't play and one in which Dwyane Wade left early.

Wade again sat out with a shoulder injury, but O'Neal powered his way nearly to a triple-double with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

"We owed this team," O'Neal said.

Eddie Jones scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth on 5-of-5 shooting with four three-pointers, helping push the game completely out of hand.

"We need to defend and share the ball," Skiles said. "We didn't do either. We had no chance defensively, for whatever reason. And 10 assists to 20 turnovers, that's just not our formula."

After pulling within 56-53 on a Kirk Hinrich three-pointer with 5 minutes 29 seconds left in the third, the Bulls were outscored 47-17 during a second half in which they made only 9 of 36 field goals and finished with a season low in points.

One stretch late in the third typified the Bulls' night.

Thomas almost knocked a dribbling Hinrich to the floor during a miscommunication on a screen, then worsened the situation by jumping on Udonis Haslem for a foul in the ensuing loose-ball scrum.

Hinrich and Chris Duhon then committed brutal back-to-back turnovers that led to an Antoine Walker fast-break layup and a Gary Payton jumper. Suddenly, the Bulls trailed 67-53. Walker added a three-pointer to stretch the Heat run to 14-3 to close the quarter.

"We were doing crazy things," Hinrich said.

Hinrich committed six turnovers. Ben Gordon shot 6 of 18. Luol Deng, who clanked 11 of 14 shots, failed to reach double figures for only the fourth time this season.

"It was my worst game this year," Deng said.

Neither could the Bulls early. They stumbled and bumbled around during a first quarter, trailing by as many as 19.

Having already pulled P.J. Brown and Gordon, Skiles called a timeout with the Bulls down 20-9 and benched his other three starters. But a lineup of Malik Allen, Adrian Griffin, Thabo Sefolosha, Duhon and Thomas helped turn a 7-0 Heat run into a 15-0 spurt thanks to two Sefolosha turnovers.

"It was kind of shocking," Skiles said. "Their effort hit us in the face and we had no response."

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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