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News » Energy, hunger lacking for Bulls

Energy, hunger lacking for Bulls

Energy, hunger lacking for BullsBlowouts such as the Bulls' 110-78 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night at the United Center happen during the course of a long NBA season.

What's troubling is the way the Bulls have played the last three weeks after a decent start. The last time they put together a solid effort for 48 minutes was Nov. 17, when they won 101-87 at Sacramento.

Since then, the Bulls (7-11) have dropped seven of eight, with the lone victory being an uneven one over an injury-riddled Detroit Pistons team missing three key players last week.

To say the team's confidence has been shaken is akin to saying it gets cold in Chicago in the winter.

''It's low, but we have an off day [Sunday] and everybody has to come back focused and everybody should be on the same page,'' point guard Derrick Rose said. ''It's tough, but somehow we're gonna have to play.

''Some teams get it early; some teams get it late. We just have to find it.''

Injuries certainly have played a role in the Bulls' struggles. With Kirk Hinrich (sprained left thumb) and Tyrus Thomas (fractured left forearm) out and Jannero Pargo slowed by a back/hip issue, the depth is affected and there's little margin for error.

But injuries are far from the only problem. Offensively, the Bulls still aren't playing with consistent cohesion, even though there weren't many roster changes in the offseason. On far too many occasions, the ball doesn't move crisply because the players appear unsure where their teammates are going to cut.

The main problem, though, has been players not performing to their standards. Only Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have met or exceeded expectations. Everyone else has struggled to find a groove.

John Salmons still is shooting less than 40 percent, Rose is committing too many turnovers and not finishing enough when he gets in the paint and Brad Miller has struggled to hit a shot or rebound in too many games.

Just about every one of those issues was a factor Saturday, when the Bulls got off to a slow start and fell behind 37-16 at the end of the first quarter.

''Injuries are not really an excuse,'' Salmons said. ''We just have to come out with more energy. We have to start trying to take the game instead of thinking we're gonna automatically throw the ball up and win.

''We have to come out with more energy, we have to play with more hunger, more effort.''

By losing to the Raptors, the Bulls already have squandered one home game against a team with a losing record. If they don't get things together soon, they run the risk of squandering a chance to move up in the standings because of an upcoming stretch loaded with home games.

They have just three road games the rest of the month and begin a five-game homestand Friday.

Despite the obvious offensive struggles, Deng believes the players' focus should be on the defensive end -- as it was the first three weeks, when the team got off to a 6-4 start.

''Defense carries to the offensive end,'' he said. ''Whenever we don't play together, it carries over to both ends.''

Coach Vinny Del Negro simply vows to keep working to get things corrected.

''I love the challenge, I love the competition and it makes me sick to perform like that,'' he said. ''Are you gonna give up or are you gonna fight?

''I'm a fighter. I'm gonna do whatever I can to help, and the guys have to do the same.''

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 8, 2009


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