MINNEAPOLIS—Tax audits can be more entertaining than what transpired Wednesday night at Target Center. A Thesaurus would have run out of adjectives to describe the action as awful.
Luckily, following the Bulls' dreadful 83-67 loss to the Timberwolves that set new standards for futility in a season full of them, interim coach Jim Boylan cleared his throat.
"Some guys out there just seemed to shut it off," Boylan said. "That was disappointing to see."
Such words enter the dangerous area of accusing players of quitting. Which is why Boylan was asked if he meant that.
"Just shut it off," Boylan said. "They stopped playing with energy. They stopped playing with focus. They went into their own little worlds, acting kind of childish at times instead of doing what we know we need to do."
While this might not rival Tim Floyd's classic line claiming the Bulls couldn't beat a "snappy junior high team" after a franchise-worst 53-point loss in this same building on Nov. 8, 2001, it nevertheless piqued players' interest.
"I don't know if he meant unprofessional, immature, I don't know," guard Kirk Hinrich said. "It was a big game for us and we just didn't have it. That wasn't NBA basketball out there offensively. In the second half, things came pretty easily for them at the other end."
Asked what he thought Boylan meant, Ben Wallace said: "It is what it is. I don't know. Gotta ask him."
What did Wallace see?
"I seen everything going wrong," he said. "We didn't execute. We didn't defend."
The Bulls set season lows for points and field goals with 23 and they tied a season low for shooting percentage at 33.3 percent.
Boylan called the Bulls' help defense in the second half the worst he has seen in a long time, and Al Jefferson took advantage to the tune of 26 points and 20 rebounds. Ryan Gomes added 25 and 10.
"You're playing back-to-back games against the same team, there's a certain mental approach you need to have and a certain toughness you need to bring to the game," Boylan said. "We didn't do that."
The Bulls played again without Luol Deng, Joe Smith and Ben Gordon, although Gordon said he's confident he will play Saturday in Sacramento, where this six-game trip continues.
Whether he can help the Bulls' three-point shooting, where they missed their first 10 attempts and finished at 16.7 percent, remains to be seen. On a night the Bulls could have crawled into an eighth-place tie with the Nets for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, they instead committed 22 turnovers.
Andres Nocioni shot 2 of 12 with five miscues.
Hinrich shot 5 of 17 with three.
Thabo Sefolosha slipped to six turnovers.
The teams combined to miss their first 17 shots—the Bulls missed nine—and didn't score a field goal until more than four minutes in.
The Bulls scored their first field goal 6:32 after tipoff.
"It's too late for us to be playing like this," Wallace said.
"We're trying to make a playoff run. Games like this set you back."