Scott Skiles typically opens his postgame media session with a comment. On Thursday, he tried a joke.
"You want to give me the night off?" Skiles said.
If his wish had been granted, he merely would have been following the lead of his players, who again collapsed down the stretch of a desultory 86-83 loss to the Nets.
Before a United Center sellout crowd of 21,931, the Bulls blew an 18-point lead to the Nets for the second time in seven days and allowed the Nets a 14-0 fourth-quarter run one night after surrendering a 12-0 fourth-quarter run to Washington.
Jason Kidd's triple-double of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists handed the Bulls their fifth loss in six games and their first home loss to an Eastern Conference team since April 6 of last season, a span of 16 games overall and 14 this season.
In four of the five losses, the Bulls have collapsed in the final quarter.
"It was more of the same," Skiles said. "They picked up the energy and started getting after us. We didn't have much of a response."
Where to start?
The Nets dominated the boards, including a 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds that led to 19 second-chance points.
Unheralded Mikki Moore, with 13 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, outplayed Ben Wallace, who is battling a sore back. Moore's six offensive rebounds matched Wallace's total.
"My back is making me move a little funky," Wallace said. "We'll pay attention to it, but that ain't the reason we lost that game. I gave up too many offensive rebounds. I didn't do too much to help the team."
Kidd did, posting his 13th triple-double this season and nearly shutting down Ben Gordon completely in the second half.
After Gordon scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting to stake the Bulls to a 49-35 halftime lead, Kidd switched to Gordon, who made just 1 of 5 second-half shots to finish with 23.
"You can't get any baskets with no attempts," Gordon said. "I have to do a better job of getting the ball."
Added Skiles: "Jason basically prevents Ben from catching the ball. If he's not the best, he's one of the best who ever has played the game at that when he's locked in."
Skiles lamented poor ball movement for Luol Deng setting season-lows with seven shots and four points.
The Nets took their first lead when Kidd swished a three-pointer from in front of his team's bench with 5 minutes 41 seconds left.
The Bulls missed eight straight shots, committed two turnovers and went 5:41 without scoring as the Nets turned a 74-67 deficit into an 81-74 lead.
"I think everybody presses and tries to do too much," Kirk Hinrich said.
Andres Nocioni, who led the Bulls with 28, scored four straight points before Viktor Khryapa, surprisingly playing meaningful minutes, got whistled for a dubious foul on Richard Jefferson with one second on the shot clock and both players pursuing a loose ball.
Jefferson made both free throws for an 83-78 Nets lead with 27.4 seconds remaining.
Khryapa then rebounded Nocioni's missed three-pointer to set him up for another try, and Nocioni swished this attempt with 16.6 seconds remaining.
Kidd split a pair of free throws with 15.7 seconds to play, and Skiles opted for a quick two. Hinrich, who tallied 19 points and 10 assists, drew a foul and hit both free throws.
Kidd added two more free throws with 10.6 seconds left, forcing the Bulls to attempt a game-tying three-pointer.
But Hinrich had the ball tipped away by Kidd as Gordon curled off of him. He recovered and pump-faked Bostjan Nachbar into the air, but Nachbar partially blocked his attempt.
"We shouldn't be losing an 18-point lead anywhere," Wallace said.
Nets 86, Bulls 83
18 seems to be Bulls' unlucky number
Again blow big lead to Nets, then cave in last quarter
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