Bulls still searching for consistency — and doing so on tough road trip

Only this Bulls team can beat the Celtics twice, defeat the Bucks in their own backyard and still have losses to the Magic and Spurs on its resume. DeMar DeRozan wishes he had an explanation.

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The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan dribbles up the court against the Indiana Pacers last month.

“Kind of went through so many emotions already 20 games into the season,” the Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan said. “Sometimes you’ve got to soak in that hurt and kind of generate that to being competitors, and that’s where I think we are now.’’

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Bulls veteran DeMar DeRozan calls it ‘‘soaking in the hurt’’ — tough losses that sting a little harder and last a little longer.

The Bulls have been sponges for such defeats so far this season.

A five-point road loss in late October to the Spurs, an embarrassing home loss almost two weeks ago to the Magic and an overtime road loss Friday to the Thunder headline that list of disappointments.

‘‘Sometimes you’ve got to go through whatever you’ve got to go through to understand whatever it is,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘I think that’s just where we are. We’ve had some down moments, losing four games in a row, dropping games we thought we should have won, close games, getting our butts whupped at home.

‘‘Kind of went through so many emotions already [19] games into the season. Sometimes you’ve got to soak in that hurt and kind of generate that to being competitors, and that’s where I think we are now.’’

The Bulls are in the midst of a tough six-game road trip that won’t define the season but could continue to answer some important questions. Perhaps the biggest one is this: Can they show any signs of consistency?

The Bulls will enter their road game Monday against the Jazz with an 8-11 record, but it’s a deceptive 8-11. Their résumé features two victories against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics, a victory against the Bucks and victories against expected playoff teams in the Heat and Raptors. That is proof the Bulls are capable of beating any team in the league.

That wasn’t the case last season, when the Bulls went a dismal 3-25 — including a first-round playoff loss to the Bucks — against teams that had a .600 winning percentage or better.

Considering the roster underwent very few changes from last season to this season, the Bulls seemingly have gotten over that hump. The problem now seems to be that they can lose to any team in the league, too.

Such inconsistency remains an ongoing concern, especially when it manifests itself in a lack of effort and urgency.

Coach Billy Donovan has made his feelings on that clear, and DeRozan said it has been discussed often in the locker room.

‘‘Losing the games we lost, we’ve been holding each other accountable,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘Everybody’s been speaking up whenever we get a chance. Film sessions, practice, we’ve been on each other.’’

That accountability will be tested.

If this part of the road trip feels familiar, it should. Last March, the Bulls had a three-game West Coast swing against the Kings, Jazz and Suns and lost all three games by an average of 17 points.

This time around, it’s the Jazz up first, followed by the Suns on Wednesday, the Warriors on Friday and the Kings next Sunday. Any way you stack them, the Bulls won’t have an easy road on the rest of this trip.

There will be no shortage of storylines, either, starting with facing a Jazz team led by former Bull Lauri Markkanen, who leads the team in scoring (21.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.4 per game) and is shooting just under 37% from three-point range.

Still, DeRozan said the Bulls’ priority should be finding the consistency they have lacked.

‘‘It’s not even December yet,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘There’s a lot more basketball to play and a lot more things to figure out. And I’ve got the utmost confidence in this group of guys.’’

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