The outlook for the Bulls isn't necessarily bleak, although they did look terrible in the second half of Saturday's 92-75 loss to Detroit at the United Center.
Things should turn in a better direction if they get Luol Deng (sore left Achilles) and Jimmy Butler (turf toe) back from injury soon, as expected. And despite all that has gone wrong, they are just two games below .500 at 8-10.
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A guy who has never played on a winning team during 11 seasons in the NBA should be a good place to turn for the proper perspective on the plight of the Bulls.
"Obviously, being around the last few years here with all the success, people are probably thinking more doom and gloom, because we're a couple games under .500," Mike Dunleavy said after Saturday's game. "But from what I see on the inside, we're close. We're close, and we're going to turn this thing around and have a good year."
Dunleavy joined the Bulls as a free agent last summer with the idea of joining a title contender. Now he's got to be hoping not to follow the path of Joe Smith, who signed with the Bulls under similar circumstances in 2007 and found himself traded to Cleveland by midseason when things turned sour.
"Look, I've been around this league long enough to know there are no guarantees," Dunleavy said. "Things happen. This is still a pleasant environment for me, having been through some of the situations I've been through. It's a professional group. It's a group that's going to hang in there, and we'll get things figured out. I think we're a lot closer than people think."
Against Detroit, the game was tied at 47-47 at halftime, then the Bulls couldn't get shots to fall in the second half. Dunleavy's performance mirrored that trend. He hit 5 of 7 shots for 12 points in the first half, then finished with 16 points and went 0-for-5 from 3-point range after intermission.
"After a game like tonight, you're disappointed," he said. "But looking at the big picture, I totally believe in this group. A big reason why I came here is how they performed last year under the circumstances. This year is kind of a bit similar. We'll manage."
The Bulls reached the second round of the playoffs without Derrick Rose last season. They're in the same predicament this year with Rose expected to miss the season after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.
A 20-point win over Miami on Thursday brought some hope for a winning streak, then Deng's injury left the Bulls in a tough spot.
Besides winning without Rose last year, the Bulls also can look at the 2004-05 season for inspiration. That's when they were 4-15 at a similar spot on the calendar and recovered to post a 47-35 record.
"We've just got to let this one slide off our back until we figure out a way to win," Taj Gibson said. "We've got a lot of guys out, a lot of guys hurt. It's real frustrating because you don't really get a chance to get a rhythm, because there's always one guy banged up from the night before. It's tough, but we've just got to keep pushing."