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Bulls enter desperation mode in loss to Bobcats
A season in which the Bulls talked about winning the Eastern Conference sank to this Friday night:
Demetris Nichols was inserted to kick-start a moribund offense in the fourth quarter of a brutal 90-77 loss to the Bobcats.
Nothing against Nichols, who possesses a nice shot in practice and seems to be a nice guy and all. But if Nichols—a second-round draft pick on his third NBA team this season—is the answer, the questions no longer should be about a playoff run.
On a night the Bulls could have caught the eighth-seeded Pacers with a victory, the Bulls stunned the sellout crowd into indifference and submission with a miserable effort at both ends.
Despite shooting 37 percent and allowing the Bobcats, who had been 2-13 on the road, to shoot 49 percent, the Bulls weren't even booed off the court by the remnants of the crowd.
A downcast Jim Boylan dissected the loss matter-of-factly.
"Our inconsistency showed again," the Bulls' interim coach said. "It becomes difficult to understand why we have problems motivating ourselves. I know we're short-handed. But we should be able to fill the void with the guys we have.
"We go from one game to another where we look like two different teams."
Emeka Okafor's 21 points and 16 rebounds led the Bobcats. Gerald Wallace also had 21 points.
Because the Bobcats are the Bobcats and kept turning the ball over, the Bulls were within 68-64 early in the fourth.
But by the time Wallace buried a wide-open jumper on which Ben Wallace was screened and no Bull was within 10 feet, the Bobcats had gone on a 15-4 run.
Boylan angrily called a timeout.
"These are NBA players," Boylan said. "When you're called upon to perform, you're supposed to."
The Bulls shot 4 of 18 from three-point range and 59 percent from the line. They had won the previous three games against the Bobcats.
Thanks to 31.1 percent shooting and disinterested defense, the Bulls trailed 45-34 at halftime.
The Bulls endured a 6-minute-32-second scoreless drought from late in the first quarter to early in the second, failing to score on 10 possessions.
"When things don't go our way early, it deflates us," Chris Duhon said. "That's different. We used to fight through struggles all the time. We have to get back to that."
Andres Nocioni's 25 points led the Bulls, who played without Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.
"The accumulation of frustration has got the better of us," said guard Kirk Hinrich, who followed up his career-high 38-point effort Wednesday with 14. "It's disappointing because we need to string wins together."
Nichols' first shot, by the way, missed badly from behind the three-point line. His next was an air ball.
After Wednesday night's victory over the Pacers, Boylan emphasized not to let the outcome trick anybody into thinking all is OK because so much work remains. Perhaps Boylan should buy a lottery ticket.
As his team continues to follow solid outings with sleepwalking, his chances to win that seem about as high as the Bulls' to make the playoffs.