Bulls win laugher against Spurs, but questions grow as trade deadline looms

The Bulls have won three games in a row and four of their last five, but will any of that matter once the NBA trade deadline comes Thursday?

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The Bulls’ Andre Drummond (3) pulls down a rebound against San Antonio Spurs’ Blake Wesley (14) and Malaki Branham.

The Bulls’ Andre Drummond (3) pulls down a rebound against San Antonio Spurs’ Blake Wesley (14) and Malaki Branham.

Paul Beaty/AP

Veteran big man Andre Drummond said he had no clue what the Bulls’ roster would look like by the NBA trade deadline Thursday.

That included his own status with the team.

‘‘I’ve preached the same message, even when I was in Detroit,’’ Drummond said of the looming deadline and the rumors surrounding it. ‘‘It’s the part of the season I can’t control. See what happens, play the game of basketball — the thing I can control — and let the cards fall where they may.’’

Where they fell Monday was directly on the heads of the struggling Spurs. The Bulls (26-27) overcame sluggish second and third quarters to pull away in the fourth and earn a 128-104 victory.

It was the Bulls’ third consecutive victory and fourth in their last five games. Is that enough of a statement for the front office to be buyers instead of sellers?

Maybe. But as the Sun-Times has been reporting, all indications in the last few weeks have been that the Bulls aren’t looking to be aggressive sellers, even with all their inconsistency this season.

Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas likes to play things close to the vest, and the Bulls making some smaller tweaks to their roster was the possibility that had picked up the most steam around the league.

One of those tweaks might involve dealing Drummond, even though he played one of his better games of the season against the Spurs and finished with season highs of 21 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field and 15 rebounds.

Even with Karnisovas and coach Billy Donovan publicly saying they have an open-door policy for any players with trade questions, Drummond didn’t sound interested in knocking.

‘‘I don’t think that’s my job to do,’’ Drummond said. ‘‘If anything, it’s the agent’s job. As a player, I don’t think I should be asking those kinds of questions.’’

The Bulls didn’t make the entire night easy on themselves, but they seldom do against lesser competition.

After the Bulls built a 12-point lead in the first half, things started slipping late in the second quarter. They let the Spurs gain some momentum and actually outscore them by eight points in the quarter.

That inconsistent play carried on through the third, with the Spurs grabbing a short-lived lead with 4:31 left on two free throws by Zach Collins.

Then DeMar DeRozan said enough was enough. He made a jumper with 1:33 left in the third to enable the Bulls to reclaim the lead, converted a three-point play a minute later, then made a 16-footer with eight seconds left in the quarter to send the Bulls to the fourth leading 90-85.

Less than three minutes into the fourth, the Spurs’ youth and inexperience was completely exposed. The Bulls built their lead back to 12 by taking advantage of turnovers and empty possessions, then expanded it from there.

‘‘I thought we were much more active defensively,’’ Donovan said of the turnaround. ‘‘We had a hard time for maybe 2½ quarters when they were just coming downhill. I just thought our defensive intensity changed, our presence at the basket changed, and we took away opportunities for them to pass.’’

According to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the issues with his team go much deeper than turnovers.

‘‘These guys think they’re all stars in their own right, and the first thing before they’re even coached [is] they have to learn it’s not about them,’’ Popovich said. ‘‘They’ve got to get over themselves. They’re not that great. I don’t see Kobe [Bryant] or LeBron [James] out there, so we’ve got to do it together. All those things.’’

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