Kirk Hinrich came back from missing six games with a sprained left thumb, but the extra player didn?t help the Bulls stay competitive against the Atlanta Hawks. While Hinrich missed all 9 of his shot attempts, the Hawks opened the second half on a 20-4 run and handed the Bulls another embarrassing defeat, 118-83 Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
The Bulls lost for the ninth time in the last 10 games and have been beaten by 30 points twice in the last three games.
This figured to be a difficult task for the Bulls , playing the second leg of back-to-back games on the road against a rested opponent, but this was ridiculous.
"This game is all mental. Either you want it or you don?t," guard Derrick Rose said in the locker room. "The score tonight speaks for itself. Hustle, if you want it. Rebound. The score tonight speaks for itself. We?re just not playing hard.
"I don?t think me and my teammates have given up, but we?re going to have to find some ways to turn things around."
Rose led the Bulls with 19 points and 7 assists. Rookie forward James Johnson scored a season-high 17 points, all during fourth-quarter garbage time.
Otherwise, there was nothing positive for the Bulls (7-13).
After saying he felt healthy for the first time this season, backup guard Jannero Pargo has knocked down just 1 of 12 shots in the last two games. Center Brad Miller was in the starting lineup for the second day in a row but has averaged 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.
"The way we started the season I thought there was definitely some optimism," center Joakim Noah said. "We?re definitely going through it right now as a team. We?ve just got to find a way to snap out of it.
"We really need to stick together. I think there?s enough character on this team for us to turn this around. We?ve got to turn this around. We will."
The Bulls were 6-4 after their first 10 games, using strong defense and balanced scoring to play well against a tough schedule.
But the interest in playing defense seems to have evaporated. Atlanta (15-6) shot an even 50 percent from the field, led by former Bull Jamal Crawford with 29 points.
"It?s frustrating, but you?ve got to battle through it," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Just keep fighting and try to go tomorrow and have a good practice."
The Bulls hung close in the first quarter before the Hawks used a 10-0 run to stretch a 6-point lead to 16.
Trailing 56-42 at halftime, the Bulls began the third quarter with 6 misses and 4 turnovers before finally getting on the board. Atlanta?s lead hit 30 at the 3:34 mark of the third quarter.
Now the Bulls get just a single day off before finishing a stretch of four games in five nights against Golden State and Boston this weekend at the United Center.
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