Team meetings aren’t saving the Bulls.
Though they showed more life, effort and fight in a 102-100 loss to the Hawks on Monday, they also were slapped by reality.
A heart-to-heart meeting Sunday couldn’t cover up a team overvalued by the front office.
The Bulls’ losing streak reached four, and they fell 2½ games behind the idle Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re tied with the Wizards at 36-37 with nine games left.
Mike Dunleavy reiterated that the team just isn’t good enough.
“Talent’s not everything,’’ Dunleavy said. “It’s about playing together, it’s about chemistry and some synergy, and those are things we’ve struggled with. Quite frankly, not just this year, but in years past, so it doesn’t surprise me. But also I don’t think we can’t get over it. I don’t think we can’t move past it and be better and win enough games to get in.’’
When asked if the front office overvalued the Bulls’ talent, Dunleavy said, “I think honestly they’re the ones that made those comments and put the team together. That’s a question for them. That’s not a question for me. I’ll defer to them on that one.’’
The Bulls led 31-22 after the first quarter before melting down in the second. The Hawks (45-30) took control with 30 points in the quarter while holding the Bulls to 14.
Still, the Bulls found themselves in the game late, showing a pulse that was absent all last week.
Jimmy Butler’s three-pointer and a dunk by Pau Gasol cut the Hawks’ lead to four with 4:33 left. Aaron Brooks made it a one-point game with a three of his own, and he tied it with a layup a minute later.
But Kent Bazemore split a pair of free throws with 1:06 left, giving the Hawks a one-point lead.
With the Bulls down three, Butler missed a three-pointer with 27 seconds left. Jeff Teague all but iced the game, making both of his free throws to make it a five-point lead with 22 seconds left.
Butler again gave the Bulls some hope after hitting a three while being fouled for a four-point play with 19.7 seconds left. But Kyle Kor-ver was fouled with 13.6 seconds left, and the former Bulls sharp-shooter made both free throws for a three-point lead.
“We went down swinging,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “That’s something we talked about. Stay together and keep fighting. Again, I’m proud of how they went down swinging.’’
The do-or-die week continues Tuesday, when the Bulls visit the Pacers.
“We need [help],’’ Rose said of their place in the standings. “The reality is we’re fighting for a playoff spot and we’re trying to figure out things along the way.’’
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