The Bulls aren't going to protect the ball or own the Brooklyn Nets every night.
On Sunday against New York, the Bulls set a franchise-low with just 3 turnovers, to go with 30 assists. They hit the opposite extreme on Monday, committing 28 turnovers -- the highest total by an NBA team this season -- in Brooklyn.
After winning a first-round playoff series against the Nets last year, the Bulls won the first two games this season, limiting Brooklyn to 78 and 76 points in the process.
That trend ended, too, on Monday. So did the Bulls' streak of scoring 100 points in four straight games. The Nets led from start to finish this time, rolling to a 96-80 victory at the Barclays Center.
Brooklyn's Paul Pierce is new to the Nets, but he understood the situation.
"Mentally, the Bulls have really had our numbers," he said after the game. "To be honest, if I was them I'd feel like when they come play the Nets, they feel like they could beat us every time. I think the guys really had pride tonight to say, 'You know we're tired of getting pushed around by the Bulls.' "
Brooklyn (29-29) scored the game's first 8 points, capped by a technical free throw, courtesy of a complaining coach Tom Thibodeau. The lead grew to 25-10 before the Bulls got some traction.
They closed within 3 points in the second quarter, then watched Brooklyn's advantage return to 15 early in the second half.
"We were flat tonight, the start of the game, we got in a big hole and we had to fight most of the first half," Thibodeau told reporters. "We didn't play our best. Things can change quickly in this league. So we have to study, learn, correct and get ready for Detroit (on Wednesday)."
Thibodeau pointed out that the Bulls have had a rough week of travel. They started in Miami last Sunday, visited Atlanta, returned home to face Golden State the following night, went to Dallas, came back for the afternoon date with the Knicks, before heading straight to Brooklyn. After facing the Pistons, the Bulls will have a six-game homestand against most of the NBA's best teams.
"I told them I think we've been playing great basketball. I think things can change quickly," Thibodeau added. "The important thing is, we're going to study this one, make our corrections, get ready for the next one. Sometimes you're not going to play great. You don't play great, you have to bounce back and get the next one."
D.J. Augustin led the Bulls (33-27) with 16 points, followed by Jimmy Butler with 13 and Taj Gibson with 12. A day after suffering a sprained right ankle, Joakim Noah played 35 minutes against the Nets, finishing with 10 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 6 turnovers.
Butler and Carlos Boozer had 5 turnovers.
"I thought (the Nets) were very aggressive," Thibodeau said. "When that happens, you have to take the challenge and respond. I think it's important to own their space, be strong with the ball, get them off you. That's what we've got to do."
Guard Deron Williams led the Nets with 20 points. Backup center Jason Collins made his Brooklyn debut with three minutes left. Jimmer Fredette logged three minutes for the Bulls, scoring 2 points.