Are the Chicago Bulls ready to make a run for the bottom?
The race for the NBA's worst records is heating up, especially with the Bulls losing six in a row. On Sunday, Atlanta pulled out an upset win at New York, leaving Orlando at the bottom of the standings with a 15-36 record.
The Bulls (18-34) are just 2½ games ahead of the Magic and have a showdown Monday with another draft lottery hopeful in Sacramento (16-36).
Lauri Markkanen was expected to rejoin the team Sunday in Los Angeles, but the Bulls say his flight was canceled due to the weather and they decided to have him stay home. So he won't play against the Kings.
It's possible the Bulls could go on another hot streak when they are back at full strength. They went 14-7 from Dec. 8 through Jan. 15 but are 1-7 since point guard Kris Dunn went out with a concussion.
Markkanen will miss his third game Monday after the birth of his first child.
Meanwhile, the Bulls' leading scorer on the season, Nikola Mirotic, made his debut with the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Mirotic produced 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals in 35 minutes as the Pelicans lost 118-107 to Minnesota and ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls swapped Mirotic for a conditional first-round draft pick and three players who aren't expected to play significant roles.
Center Omer Asik and point guard Jameer Nelson participated in Sunday's practice at USC. Guard Tony Allen hasn't played since Dec. 1 because of a leg injury and most likely will be waived if he's not traded again before Thursday's deadline.
The other question is if the Bulls have any more trades in the works.
Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant are possibilities to be moved since they don't necessarily have a place in the rebuilding plan.
After Saturday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talked about what he will address with the players with the defeats starting to pile up.
"You have to stay positive with them," he said. "You can't pile on, but at the same time you have to learn from the mistakes being made out there. From that standpoint my job doesn't change. They have to make the simple play to get it going on offense and hopefully get our defensive intensity ratchet up.
"It's tough like this when you're losing, and on a slide like this you have to find a way to keep morale up. Keep going out and battling and competing."
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls.