Bulls fall to Hornets, 103-91

The Bulls Friday were stung in 103-91 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

With just under a minute left in another frustrating night for the Bulls, Taj Gibson was ejected with a second technical foul after a Robin Lopez elbow and fracas with Marvin Williams. Lopez then was ejected with the more serious flagrant foul 2.

The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 26 points. Doug McDermott had 15 points, Dwyane Wade 12 and Gibson 10. Charlotte had 18 fast break points and 19 second chance points.

The Bulls fell below .500 for the first time this season at 14-15. The Hornets are 17-13. The Bulls have lost eight of 11.

The Bulls play Sunday in San Antonio in their seventh consecutive Christmas Day game. They are 13-7 overall on Christmas Day and 4-2 in these last six straight with wins the last three years. The Bulls defeated the Spurs earlier this month in the United Center.

Wade had missed the game day practice with a migraine headache, but he started the game. Wade did come out four and a half minutes into the game for McDermott. The Hornets made it clear from the start they were not going to be beaten by Butler. So Rajon Rondo and Mirotic were the leading first quarter scorers as the Bulls took a 26-22 lead. Charlotte led early 14-11, but in driving the Charlotte shooting under 40 percent, the Bulls took the lead. The Bulls extended that lead to 30-22 two minutes into the second quarter as Charlotte opened the second quarter with four misses and a pair of turnovers. But the Bulls let an opportunity get away missing nine straight shots with a turnover that enabled Charlotte to lead 31-30 with 5:44 left in the half as the Bulls shooting dropped to 30 percent. Charlotte extended that to 37-30 as the Bulls went more than six minutes without a score in a 15-0 Hornets run and missing 11 straight field goals until a Butler jumper with 2:51 left. Charlotte then took a 48-40 lead at the half. Transition proved problematic again with a 13-2 Charlotte fast break lead in the half. Nicolas Batum had 13 points for Charlotte, the only player on either team scoring in double figures. It was 26-10 Charlotte on points in the paint.

The Bulls opened the second half pressuring on defense and pushing the ball out, scoring nine straight to take the lead. Charlotte responded immediately with their big men Cody Zeller rolling to the rim and Frank Kaminsky stepping outside for scores and a 56-51 lead. First Butler shooting and turning a steal from Batum into a score and then a pair of McDermott threes brought the Bulls within 68-65. But Charlotte ran off seven straight from their big guys for a 75-67 lead after three quarters. The Bulls battled back to open the fourth with Cristiano Felicio on the offensive boards. McDermott added a three and Mirotic fought inside early in the fourth, but with Charlotte pressure on Wade and Butler the Hornets eased ahead 88-76 midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulls then responded with yet another score out of a timeout as Gibson powered inside and with a McDermott reverse drew within 88-82 with four minutes left.