SEATTLE—Did anyone get the license number of that cement mixer?
It had Washington plates, and Friday night it just flattened the Bulls and left them peeling themselves off the losing side once again on this Western Conference trip.
United Center. Or it just seems like that as the Bulls stumble into Los Angeles on Sunday to wrap up the first part of this long trip against the Lakers.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 16 points, nine in the final three minutes after the game was lost. Michael Sweetney, starting for Darius Songaila, had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis each had 27 for Seattle.
"There are moments in every NBA game, hustle plays, talent plays, where things don't go your way," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.
"You either fight or flee. We're having trouble right now. If things don't go our way, we tend to hang our heads and not be able to get out of it."
It came this time after a wonderful first half of basketball in which the Bulls shut down Seattle's big gun, Allen, and took a 44-33 lead, thanks in part to holding the Sonics to 12 points in the second quarter.
"We had a good defensive half, as good a first half as I've seen any team have this year," Skiles said. "And I watch a lot of games."
However, he wasn't happy with what he had to watch in the second half. Allen hit a pair of three-pointers, while the Bulls missed five straight free throws and threw away an inbound pass.
Seattle shot 70 percent in the third quarter after 32.4 percent in the first half and outscored the Bulls 33-19.
The Bulls went back up 69-68 in the fourth when Deng connected on a three, but Seattle blew the game open with an 18-2 run in just over three minutes.
Allen, Lewis and Mateen Cleaves all hit threes in the run that ended with Vitaly Potapenko's layup with 6:52 to play.
That had Skiles benching Tyson Chandler and Deng.
"They wanted it more than we did," Skiles said, "especially near the end of the third, the start of the fourth, right out of the locker room [in the second half]. In the NBA, you've got to step up to the line and not go 0-for-5 when the other team is battling back.
"It's very much like the beginning of last season (0-9 start) for whatever reason. We're not as respectful of the defense as we need to be. All of a sudden little things happen, and it throws us totally out of kilter. You've got to play all the time. I was hopeful we learned that lesson from last season. Apparently we have not yet."
One of the few Bulls highlights came from Chris Duhon, who had been 1 of 14 on three-pointers on the trip entering the game. He banked in a half-courter to end the first quarter.
"[The three-pointers] just haven't gone in for him," Skiles said before the game. "I guess I'm not that concerned about it. Maybe I should be, but I'm not. He has become a pretty good three-point shooter."
Songaila shot the ball better off the bench, hitting 3 of 5 shots for six points. Ben Gordon's shooting woes continued as he was 4 of 15 and now is shooting 35 percent for the season. Tim Thomas was on the inactive list and declined to sit on the bench during the game. He remained in the locker room for the second straight game. Also inactive was Eddie Basden, who was on the bench. Sweetney had his third triple-double of the season and second straight. The Bulls have lost all three games.