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Bulls guard Jimmy Butler drives to the basket in the first half against the Pistons on Monday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. | Carlos Osorio/AP

With Wade, Rondo out, Bulls falter late again in loss to Pistons

SHARE With Wade, Rondo out, Bulls falter late again in loss to Pistons
SHARE With Wade, Rondo out, Bulls falter late again in loss to Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It’s not like the Bulls can’t figure out what happens to them late in games like this.

“They made some shots, we missed some, and that’s how the game goes,” Jimmy Butler said after the Bulls faltered in the fourth quarter in a 109-95 loss to the Pistons on Monday night.

Figuring out what to do about it seems like it will be a little more problematic for a disjointed team still finding its way after the trade of Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott.

The Bulls led by 14 points in the first quarter and by three late in the third. But after the Pistons tied the game 79-79 after three quarters, the Bulls were dominated in the fourth — shooting 6-for-20 from the field and getting outscored 30-16.

It was similar to their loss to the Clippers on Saturday, when the Bulls scored 61 points in the first half but were outscored 46-30 in the second half of a 101-91 loss.

Guards Dwyane Wade (thigh) and Rajon Rondo (ankle) being out made the Pistons’ job a little easier. They put the clamps on Butler and watched the Bulls’ offense implode.

Butler led the Bulls with 27 points on 7-for-16 shooting and had nine rebounds and four assists. But he was shut down by the Pistons early in the fourth quarter as they opened an 89-82 lead and never were threatened.

Even Butler had his moments. On a fast break after a Pistons turnover with the Bulls trailing 87-82, it looked like he had an opportunity for a slam dunk. Instead, he fumbled the ball out of bounds. Andre Drummond scored at the other end to make it 89-82.

“They were blitzing Jimmy, doing a good job,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s an opportunity when you draw two to the ball like that to make a pocket pass and then hopefully play the numbers game in the back side. We didn’t take advantage of that.”

Butler vowed to be more aggressive against the Pistons after taking only seven shots and scoring 16 points against the Clippers. He was more aggressive, but without Rondo and Wade, he was virtually helpless in crunch time.

Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez, Paul Zipser, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne combined for six points on 3-for-11 shooting in the fourth quarter.

“I think everybody knows who’s going to get he ball in the fourth quarter, given that D-Wade is out, Rondo is out,” Butler said. “They did a good job of making me give the ball up, double-teaming me.

“Obviously that was their scouting report. I could hear them yelling it from the other end of the floor. I take the shots we got. I want the young guys being aggressive, shooting when you’re open, attacking the rim when you can. It’s only going to make us better in this long run that’s so short with the 19 games we have left. We’ll be OK.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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