And then they were 9-17.
And so went the continuation of this discouraging Bulls season here Wednesday night in a 94-79 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Been there. Seen that.
Somehow, interim coach Pete Myers was unable to get the Bulls shots to go (41 percent shooting), to awaken Ben Wallace (two points and five rebounds in 34 minutes) or find much hope and life from the youngsters on the bench (Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah were scoreless).
The Bulls went relatively quietly after falling behind by 18 points in the second quarter and couldn't get the deficit below eight thereafter despite little impact from Tim Duncan (eight points and 11 rebounds).
Instead, it was Tony Parker, who scored 28 points as he flashed through a Bulls defense that was a step too slow all night. Trying to pack in the defense to slow Duncan, the Bulls also were late getting out to the perimeter shooters, a constant complaint of former coach Scott Skiles all season.
The loss marked the fourth time in the last seven games the Bulls trailed by at least 20 points in the second half and was their fourth loss in the last five games. Nobody empties out buildings because of routs these days like the Bulls.
Again the starters got plenty of fourth-quarter rest, though Joe Smith led the Bulls with 19 and Ben Gordon added 18.
The Bulls showed few drastic changes under Myers either in style of play or effect, especially early.
Myers stuck with the same starters Skiles used, though he did bring Adrian Griffin in first off the bench. Myers then went to Andres Nocioni, whose shot is still missing (1 of 11), and then Noah.
It actually was Gordon and Smith who were most efficient with the Bulls overall shooting still erratic and ball movement limited.
"Those are the guys who won those positions in camp," Myers said. "There's no need for changing now. It's hard to change things within a few days. [General manager John Paxson] basically talked to me about wanting to see those guys enjoying themselves. We have moments when things are not going well for us and we deflate.
"In the past, when things didn't go well, we'd tighten the screws. The last month, the effort level was bad for us. It's not just one guy. It was many guys. In the past, we defended first. I thought this year we came in with the attitude to be better offensively. When you get caught in that web it's hard to get out of."
Myers sought to bring a defensive emphasis in his debut and in the first quarter the Bulls held down the Spurs, playing without the injured Manu Ginobili, and led 22-21 with Chris Duhon (5 of 6 for the game) adding some solid shooting.
But Parker began to carve up the Bulls defense in the second quarter in a brilliant stretch in which the Spurs went from leading 30-25 to ahead 47-29.
Parker knifed through the Bulls' soft inside, though there are few teams that could have stopped Parker's whirling, spinning moves to the basket that were supported by jumpers from Michael Finley (15 points) and Ime Udoka (12 points) when the Bulls tried to protect the lane better.
The Bulls recovered some behind Smith and Gordon's aggressiveness to go into halftime trailing 51-39.
The Bulls matched the Spurs throughout the third mostly behind Smith and Gordon again.
And though the interior collapsing seemed to control Duncan, the Bulls still could not get a handle on Parker.
"They were lively at shootaround," Myers said. "The last month we've been great in shootaround and practice. When the game starts, it looks like we tighten up."
LayupsDuhon said in informal discussions among players there was this consensus: "If your excuse why you were not playing well was Scott, there's no more excuses. If you want to be the team we expected to be and know we can be, nobody has an excuse. You have to go out and play. Don't have any more excuses. If you're supposed to be a $60 million man, go out and prove it." … Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was among many around the NBA who said he was "shocked" by Skiles' firing. "He had them playing so well [previously]," Popovich said. "He was a demanding, hard-nosed, knowledgeable guy who did a good job, a guy who was creative, dedicated, who worked his butt off." … In attendance, as usual at Spurs home games, was one-time Bulls coach Stan Albeck, who had a serious stroke several years ago. Albeck smiled knowingly of another Bulls coaching casualty—the team fired him in 1986.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun