With Kris Dunn sidelined indefinitely with a concussion and Zach LaVine struggling to find his legs, this is a point in the schedule when the Chicago Bulls could make up some ground in the race for a higher draft pick.
At times, though, it's just chaos on the court.
And coach Fred Hoiberg was in no mood to accept defeats after the Bulls were gouged by the Milwaukee Bucks 110-96 on Sunday at the United Center.
"We're going to have a heck of a practice (Monday)," Hoiberg said. "We're going to have a training camp-style practice. We've got to get our competitive edge back. We have to get our spirit back. So we're going to go like heck tomorrow and hopefully get some of that back."
The Bulls (18-32) started slowly in this game, but they really hit the ditch in the second quarter when they allowed Milwaukee to hit 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range and also build a 10-0 edge in fastbreak points.
The Bulls were outscored 35-22 in the quarter and trailed by 19 at halftime. They never got within single digits in the second half.
"I think we have to find ourselves again," Justin Holiday said. "Maybe a couple losses hit us harder than we wanted it to. We're human, man. I would love for us to be energetic, flying around all the time, but it just doesn't happen all the time.
"We have to still try and find a way. Being a young team, that's what we're here to learn. How can we get some type of juice, how can we get something for those games where we're not really feeling it."
LaVine has been very good at times since returning from a torn ACL on Jan. 13. This was one to forget.
He missed his first 9 shots before finally hitting a driving bank early in the fourth quarter. LaVine finished with 6 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes, going 2-for-11 from the field.
LaVine said he planned to hit the practice court Sunday night to get some more shots up and try to get this game out of his system.
"I've got to be a closing pitcher. You've got to get over that late walk-off home run," LaVine said in the locker room. "It's frustrating. You put a lot of work into it. Things just aren't dropping. It's part of the game. There's no shots I haven't taken before, and I practice everything.
"Obviously, I have to do better."
Denzel Valentine led the Bulls with 18 points, but after delivering a one-man offense in the first half, he got just 2 shots and scored 2 points after halftime. Lauri Markkanen added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulls beat the Bucks twice last month in Milwaukee, so they should have been expecting the Bucks' best shot.
"We knew they beat us twice at home," Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton said. "That was embarrassing to us. So it was a little bit of a revenge game for us here."
It was a rough first half for the Bulls as the starting five combined to score just 15 points. LaVine, Holiday and Robin Lopez shot a collective 2-for-16 from the field.
The Bucks asserted themselves defensively, using their long arms to force 16 turnovers. In the first half, Milwaukee found a variety of hot shooters, then Giannis Antetokounmpo took over in the second half, scoring 19 of his 27 points.
"We miss (Dunn), there's no doubt about that," Hoiberg said. "We're a much better team when we get the ball up the floor quickly, and Kris Dunn is our best pace guard. That being said, we've still got to go out and play the right way."
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