Bulls a no-show in loss to Pacers, and coach Fred Hoiberg isn’t pleased

SHARE Bulls a no-show in loss to Pacers, and coach Fred Hoiberg isn’t pleased

INDIANAPOLIS — The last time the Bulls played the Pacers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, coach Fred Hoiberg called the last-second loss ‘‘devastating.’’

The Bulls’ 125-86 loss Saturday at the same venue was flat-out embarrassing.

‘‘We were awful; we were awful,’’ Hoiberg said afterward — and that was just referring to the defense.

Add in the Bulls’ lack of physicality, their lack of energy after playing Friday in Dallas and a 38 percent shooting night, and it resulted in the type of game film that should be watched only once before being thrown into the nearest fire.


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‘‘We can’t lose our confidence now,’’ forward Nikola Mirotic said of the Bulls’ fourth loss in their last five games. ‘‘We’ve been playing better. We need to put this game behind us, focus on the next game and just stick together. We need a little bit more urgency. Some games we start like, ‘OK, let’s see what’s going to happen.’ And then you’re losing by 10 and then you start losing by 20.’’

Or, in this case, by 39.

The bottom fell out for the Bulls in the second quarter, when they were outscored 33-11.

While the Bulls have dug themselves out of several holes in the last month, there wasn’t a shovel big enough for this mess.

They trailed 64-37 at the half, had committed 11 turnovers and looked to have very little to give in the second half.

‘‘The bottom line is they were comfortable all night; we weren’t,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘They brought the fight to us. They got into us right away, and we didn’t handle it well. We had 11 first-half turnovers. Points in the paint, 46-36; second-chance [points], 19-4; fast-break points, 17-9. That’s really all you need to know.’’

Not all, but all that mattered.

The Bulls’ leading scorer was Bobby Portis with 15 points. All of the starters were minus-22 or worse in plus/minus, and the Bulls have allowed 124 points or more in four consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.

So while it was a bad night all around, the defensive concerns are growing.

‘‘We’ve had some [defensive] lapses,’’ veteran center Robin Lopez said. ‘‘I think we know it’s an issue — we’re aware of that — but that’s something we’re trying to get back to. I think Indiana was just far more physical than us, and that was a huge issue for us. I’m not too worried about that. That hasn’t been a big problem for us this season.’’

But effort has been at times, and that seems to tick off Hoiberg more than anything. This season isn’t about wins and losses in the eyes of the front office; it’s about developing the young players and making sure they play with effort and fight every night.

Watching the Pacers take that effort and fight away and leave his players hanging their heads didn’t sit well with Hoiberg.

‘‘The things that made us a successful team, we need to do it,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘We didn’t do that [against the Pacers]. They came out and just laid the wood to us start to finish.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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