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Blown-away Bulls lineup limps back home

BULLS IN BRIEF

November 28, 2009

Technically, the circus trip doesn't conclude until after Monday's game at Milwaukee, but the Bulls arrived home early Friday morning thankful that the brutal Western Conference portion of the road trip is over.

Following their 105-86 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, the Bulls have lost four straight games by a total of 77 points.

After starting the trip with a victory against the Sacramento Kings, the Bulls suffered blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Jazz.

Losing on the road to those four teams is nothing to be ashamed of, but the fact the Bulls weren't competitive in any of the four games is troubling.

''Our schedule hasn't been kind to us, but those games are scheduled,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''We've got to come out, find ways to keep ourselves in games. We didn't shoot the basketball well, especially in the second half, and we could never really put up a fight to get back in it and put some pressure on them. Their cuts, their movement, they shot it well.''

The Bulls (6-8) had been relying on their defense to keep them in games before the trip, but their defensive efficiency has dropped significantly recently.

The Jazz was 45-for-74 (60.8 percent) from the field for the game.

''We didn't play well, especially defensively,'' forward Luol Deng said. ''They got whatever they wanted. Whatever kind of shot they threw up, whatever kind of shot they wanted to take, they got it. Our defense was terrible.''

Short-handed

Besides playing without forward Tyrus Thomas (fractured left forearm), the Bulls faced the Jazz without guard Kirk Hinrich, who sat out with a sprained left thumb.

Exactly how long Hinrich will be sidelined and whether he'll be available for Monday's game against the Bucks is unclear.

Without Hinrich, the Bulls got just 18 points off the bench. Depth was supposed to be a strength, but it has become a weakness without two of the top six players in the rotation.

Though Thomas has been an inconsistent performer throughout his time in the NBA, his absence likely is a key factor in the Bulls' struggles.

''I think it is,'' general manager Gar Forman said. ''It's really affected our depth, our athleticism, the energy that he brings to the floor when he's active running and on the glass and those things. It has an effect, especially against some of these front lines that we've played, where his athleticism could have helped.''

While the Bulls were on the road, Thomas was working out in Chicago on the stationary bike and treadmill. The hope is that he'll be ready to return in about two weeks.

Help on the way?

Without Hinrich, the Bulls have 10 healthy players on the roster. That figure includes center Aaron Gray, who returned to the active roster Thursday and played seven minutes against the Jazz.

The Bulls have two open roster spots, but adding a player now could put them in jeopardy of going over the luxury-tax threshold.

''That's something we're continuing to look at, adding another player,'' Forman said. ''We're not gonna do anything as of right now, but it's something we may do as we move forward.''

LATE THURSDAY

BULLS 22 18 25 21-- 86

Utah 28 29 24 24--105

BULLS min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Deng 38:17 8-20 9-11 4-8 2 1 26

Gibson 29:15 4-5 0-0 2-6 0 6 8

Noah 33:26 3-9 0-0 3-9 2 5 6

Rose 38:27 9-17 0-0 1-4 2 2 19

Salmons 30:35 4-11 1-1 1-2 5 4 9

Pargo 22:48 3-9 0-0 0-1 1 1 7

Miller 14:08 0-2 0-0 0-2 1 0 0

Johnson 18:23 3-6 4-5 2-5 1 2 10

Gray 6:58 0-1 1-2 0-1 0 1 1

Hunter 7:44 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Totals 240:01 34-81 15-19 13-39 14 22 86

Percentages: FG .420, FT .789. 3-Point Goals: 3-8, .375 (Deng 1-1, Rose 1-1, Pargo 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Salmons 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 15 (17 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Gibson 2, Salmons). Turnovers: 13 (Rose 4, Gibson 3, Noah 3, Johnson, Miller, Pargo). Steals: 9 (Deng 4, Salmons 3, Noah, Pargo). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 9:47 first.

Utah min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Brewer 39:16 7-12 1-2 2-3 6 2 15

Boozer 34:36 12-14 4-5 1-8 5 2 28

Okur 28:37 5-9 2-3 1-2 3 4 14

Williams 38:40 9-11 3-4 0-3 6 3 21

Matthews 22:06 3-6 0-1 1-3 0 1 6

Millsap 29:13 6-8 0-0 3-9 0 2 12

Kirilenko 27:42 1-7 3-6 0-4 6 4 5

Maynor 16:17 2-5 0-0 0-1 3 1 4

Koufos 3:34 0-2 0-2 1-3 0 1 0

Totals 240:01 45-74 13-23 9-36 29 20 105

Percentages: FG .608, FT .565. 3-Point Goals: 2-5, .400 (Okur 2-2, Kirilenko 0-1, Maynor 0-1, Williams 0-1). Team Rebounds: 8. Team Turnovers: 14 (20 PTS). Blocked Shots: 8 (Boozer 3, Millsap 2, Brewer, Kirilenko, Okur). Turnovers: 14 (Williams 4, Kirilenko 3, Boozer 2, Brewer 2, Maynor 2, Koufos). Steals: 10 (Williams 3, Brewer 2, Boozer, Kirilenko, Maynor, Millsap, Okur). Technical Fouls: None.

Officials--Dick Bavetta, Matt Boland, John Goble. A--18,045 (19,911). T--2:23.

THE RECAP
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