The Bulls Monday with their star backcourt of Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose sidelined with injuries trailed from the start and lost 108-91 to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Bulls fell to 27-24, a game and a half ahead of ninth place Charlotte. The Hornets at 26-26 have the tiebreaker with a 3-1 record over the Bulls this season.
The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Gasol was three of five on three pointers. Doug McDermott had 14 points off the bench and E’Twaun Moore added 12. Kemba Walker had 30 for Charlotte and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 20. The Bulls were outrebounded 56-41.
And then depression set in. Not only was Butler out and back in Chicago with a sprained knee and Nikola Mirotic recovering from appendix surgery, Rose joined the injury list with what was described as body soreness from the long, seven-game trip which was ending on Charlotte Monday. Hey, they lost the Super Bowl. So what are you complaining about?
But this Charlotte professional team came out scoring, taking a 14-4 lead in the first four minutes as the Bulls started Moore, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Gasol and Mike Dunleavy, the latter being the 12th different player to start a game for the Bulls this season. The Hornets behind usually poor shooting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist poured it on the Bulls with 58 percent shooting in the first quarter and five of nine threes. The Hornets took a 38-20 first quarter lead, the most first quarter points the Bulls have surrendered this season. Gasol and Moore had seven points each.
The Bulls started the second quarter with a reserve group of Cameron Bairstow, Tony Snell, McDermott, Aaron Brooks and Bobby Portis and proceeded to miss their first eight shots of the quarter. The Hornets, however, we no better and missed six of their first seven field goal attempts before getting out to a 46-24 lead. The Bulls put together a bit of a run with a 9-2 stretch behind Moore and Hinrich threes to get within 50-36. Charlotte led 57-42 at halftime as Gasol had 13 points and Moore 10. Gasol was two of three on three pointers. The reserves combined for four points in 40 first half minutes.
The Hornets were the ones to start the second half hawkish with a fast break score after a turnover and a three to retake their 20-point lead. Dunleavy got a basket and a three to stop the momentum, but then the Hornets got five free throws in one possession for Kamba Walker on the Hornets second clear path foul of the game and fouled on a three. Walker continued to shoot three and was four of nine for 29 points through three quarters as the Hornets went into the fourth quarter leading 87-65. The Bulls got an 8-0 start to the fourth quarter mostly behind McDermott, but couldn’t sustain and the Hornets shot their way back ahead by 20.