The grind has not been kind to the Bulls.
Thursday's game at Oklahoma City made it seven games in 10 days for the banged-up Bulls and they fielded another depleted lineup against the Thunder.
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Kirk Hinrich missed his fourth straight game with a sore back. Luol Deng did not play because his sore left Achilles flared up again, then Jimmy Butler sat out the second half after turning his right ankle.
The Bulls played reasonably well under the circumstances, but lost 107-95. Oklahoma City improved to 13-0 at home this season and has won 16 of its last 17 games.
After the game, Deng told reporters he's hoping to be back for the Christmas Day game in Brooklyn. So he's already ruled himself out for Saturday's home date against Cleveland, which will make it eight games in 12 days for the Bulls.
Butler, who recently missed 11 games with a turf toe injury, left the locker room on crutches, so his status for Saturday is questionable.
The Bulls (9-16) were doing well to trail just 55-52 at halftime. Joakim Noah was on his game, finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Taj Gibson added 16 points and new point guard D.J. Augustin had 15.
Rookie Tony Snell slid out of the rotation the past couple of games with Deng and Butler back. He played 41 minutes against Oklahoma City, but hit just 4 of 15 shots from the field, 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
The Bulls shot 37.7 percent from the field, which means they've now shot below 40 percent in six of their last eight games.
There is still a long way to go in the season and the Bulls are just a game out of a playoff spot in the East. But they're now 3-13 in their last 16 games and it's getting tougher to imagine a way out of this mess.
Without the injured Derrick Rose or departed-for-Denver Nate Robinson to finish games, the Bulls are struggling in close contests. In theory, they could start executing better once the full lineup is back on the court, but there's been no reason to believe this group will ever stay healthy for long.
After playing Cleveland on Saturday, the Bulls will get three days off before the Christmas game in Brooklyn, so maybe there's hope for a positive turn next week.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points to lead the Thunder, which hit 9 of 14 shots from 3-point range. Oklahoma City started the third quarter with a 13-4 run, boosting the 3-point halftime lead to 12. The Bulls never seriously threatened the rest of the way.