SAN ANTONIO — Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau never can seem to come up with enough
adjectives to describe the success the San Antonio Spurs have had in the last two decades. That’s why he simply has nicknamed them ‘‘The Machine.’’
Well, that ‘‘machine’’ ran over, past and through the Bulls on Sunday.
Despite 23 points and 15 rebounds from Pau Gasol and 22 points from Aaron Brooks, the Bulls fell to the Spurs 116-105 at the AT&T Center.
It didn’t take much to figure out what went wrong, either. The Bulls turned the ball over 20 times and were outscored 35-9 in fast-break points.
‘‘Obviously, the turnovers killed us,’’ forward Mike Dunleavy said. ‘‘It allowed them to get out in transition and score 35 fast-break points, which is absurd. Our offense seemed good enough to win. Just turning the ball over and not being able to stop them defensively hurt us.
‘‘We were either getting great looks or we were turning it over. And then they were getting out and getting easy shots, dunks and all that. That really killed us,
especially to start the fourth [quarter]. Just had some bad ones and couldn’t overcome it.’’
The Bulls also couldn’t overcome 32 points from Tony Parker, who seemed to be able to do what he pleased. Even holding Tim Duncan without a field goal for the first time in his 18-year career didn’t help.
‘‘It’s disappointing,’’ center Joakim Noah said. ‘‘We definitely should’ve played a lot better. They’re very active with their hands. They got a lot of steals and got into the open floor. We had no answer for that. We definitely have to take better care of the ball.’’
The Bulls dropped their second consecutive game in the midst of four in five nights, and there didn’t seem to be any good news on the injury front, either.
Guard Jimmy Butler (strained elbow ligament) was with the team and taking shots, but there was no change in his three- to six-week timetable. Backup big man Taj Gibson (sprained left ankle) and guard Derrick Rose (surgery on right knee) were back in Chicago, and Thibodeau offered no update on their health.
One thing Thibodeau did address was talk that the Bulls seem to play with more emotion and fight without Rose. That talk had grown louder after victories last week against the Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder.
‘‘It’s not that,’’ Thibodeau said, downplaying the idea. ‘‘It’s that our margin of error is so small. You never can underestimate how hard you have to play to overcome being short-handed.
‘‘You’re not replacing Derrick or Jimmy or Taj individually; we have to do it with everyone. So [with emotion is] the way we have to play.’’
The players understand that.
‘‘I think we’ve got good spirit, good resiliency; I don’t think that’s questioned,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘We’ll keep fighting through it, weather the storm, and I think we’ll end up with our head above water.’’
The Bulls don’t know exactly when help is coming, but they know it’s on the way.
‘‘It’s probably tougher when you know guys aren’t coming back, so maybe our spirits are a little higher because of that,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘But it’s also a positive to give guys an opportunity to get some more minutes, play well and get some more confidence. When everybody does get back, hopefully there will be a lot of guys rolling.’’