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Just when Bulls start turning corner, new issue crops up

Fred Hoiberg is running short on band-aids.

Fix the slow starts one game, watch the lack of communication wound open up the next. Clean and bandage that up, and here comes the turnovers.

More specifically, here came three straight losses.

It’s not exactly the numbers the first-year coach was looking for from his team, especially after a season-best six-game winning streak. But he’s getting them anyway.

There were 22 turnovers in Atlanta, and 25 points off of those miscues. Then a Monday home game with Washington, and 16 more turnovers for 17 points. The follow-up to that? Milwaukee Tuesday night, where the Bulls spit the ball up 17 times and allowed 30 points.

That’s 55 turnovers total the last three games, and an average of 24 points off of them.

“Taking care of the ball,’’ Hoiberg said, when asked about the latest concern he had with his team. “Too many turnovers in the last game, too many turnovers [Tuesday], too many turnovers in Atlanta. Again, you’ve got to value the possession. You can’t give opposing teams run-out baskets. It’s just too big of a confidence builder, especially on the road. It gets the building going. Again, you to value it.’’

It would be one thing if it was one player to point a finger at, but there’s really not.

Derrick Rose has 13 turnovers during this recent slump, but Jimmy Butler has nine, and Pau Gasol has eight.

“Trying to thread the needle,’’ Butler said, putting the blame on himself. “It starts with me. I had some really dumb ones [against Milwaukee]. They got out in the open floor, and I was just trying to do too much out there instead of make the simple play.

“We normally don’t do that. We rebounded well, we guarded well, but we didn’t take care of the ball on offense. Just don’t turn the ball over, it’s as simple as that.’’

The head-scratcher with the Bulls over the last week is Butler’s correct – they “normally don’t do that.’’

Even with the recent lack of ball security, the Bulls will enter Thursday’s game in Philadelphia 14th in the league in turning the ball over with 14.1 per game. So we’re not talking about a season-long issue.

The real issue, however, is why can’t this mostly veteran Bulls roster find some type of consistency? Why is there still no identity?

With 11 of their next 14 games on the road, they might want to start finding answers.

“You’ve got ups and downs to the season, but at times like this you’ve just got to stick together,’’ Butler said. “We’ve got to get it figured out. Home or away, we’ve got to win games. That’s what we’re expected to do and that’s what we’re capable of doing. Back to the drawing board and get ready to go in Philly.’’

Rose had a similar message.

“Stay together,’’ Rose said. “Even though we’re going through a rough patch we’ve got each other. We’re the only ones that’s going to get out of it, and I think everyone on this team knows that.’’

The good news is they have the chance to get right against a four-win Sixers team. The bad news is they will be short-handed, with Rose [left patellar tendonitis] questionable and Gasol [shoulder/rest day] out.

“We talk about the consistent 48 minutes, and that’s what we have to do,’’ Hoiberg said.

And that’s what the coach is waiting for.