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Payback doesn’t come for coach Fred Hoiberg; Bulls drop fourth straight game

The way Fred Hoiberg sees it, Raptors coach Nick Nurse still owes him.

Call it an Iowa thing.

Back when Hoiberg was the “it’’ guy in the state, Nurse was holding basketball clinics in Carroll, Iowa.

“I’ve known Nick a long time,’’ Hoiberg said. “I used to work Nick’s camps. . . . I’d go over there, and he’d pay me $50 for three hours of work. It wasn’t very good [pay].’’

And Hoiberg wasn’t expecting any back pay Saturday, either.

With guard Zach LaVine (illness) out, the Bulls were down five key players against the Raptors (13-4), making their task virtually impossible.

Even though the Raptors were missing Kawhi Leonard (rest), they still rolled the Bulls 122-83 at the United Center.

It was the Bulls’ fourth consecutive loss and the third straight defeat that could be filed under “embarrassing.’’

Hoiberg, known for being even-tempered, admittedly would love to take numerous players to task, but he’s aware of just how fragile his team’s psyche is these days.

“Part of it is to try to keep our spirits up right now,’’ Hoiberg said. “There are plenty of times I’ve been overly [angry], and we have film sessions, practices behind closed doors where we have some pretty heated moments. But when a team is reeling, that’s not the time to do it. You gotta try to lift them up, you gotta talk about the things we did well and you’ve got to take positives out of every performance.’’

Those positives would be hard to find against Toronto.

At least in the meltdown in Milwaukee on Friday, there was a first half of textbook basketball. Without LaVine — and Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine — against the Raptors, it was never a fair fight.

There were more stagnant moments from an offense that often forgets to show up in the third quarter.

A 13-point halftime deficit grew to 33 by the time the third quarter was over. The Raptors outscored the Bulls 32-12 in the third.

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The Bulls shot 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) from the field, including 2-for-7 from three-point range, were outrebounded 15-8 and allowed 11 points off five turnovers.

Justin Holiday played all 12 minutes and was a minus-20 in the quarter.

Meanwhile, Toronto shot 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from the field and 4-for-9 from three-point range in the third.

“Playing against some high-caliber teams, we’re short a couple of players. But other than that, all three of the games we lost badly, we got off to a very good start, and I feel like we get too comfortable,’’ rookie Wendell Carter Jr. said. “We kind of go our separate ways, not even in a bad way but a good way, feeling like we got the game won. They knock down a couple of threes, and we’re looking at one another, trying to point fingers [at ourselves] sometimes.

“That’s not going to be successful for us.’’

As for Nurse and Hoiberg, so much for the two old buddies from Iowa having a nice reunion.

Asked about Hoiberg being worth the money back in those camp days, Nurse said, “He was. Hoiberg in Iowa is worth every penny. He was a big draw.’’

That must feel like 100 years ago for Hoiberg these days.