Chicago Bulls falter in second half, lose to Clippers

The way this season has gone for the Bulls, putting a game like this in the win column seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

The Bulls usually beat the good teams at home and even though the Los Angeles Clippers have struggled lately, they brought a winning record to the United Center on Saturday.

All seemed well at halftime, but then an old friend of the franchise got rolling and the Bulls delivered their lowest-scoring half of the season. With Jamal Crawford scoring a game-high 25 points off the bench, the Clippers cruised to a 101-91 victory.

The Bulls somehow managed to score twice as many points in the first half as they did in the second half, 61 to 30. They're now 10-4 at home this season against teams with winning records, and back to .500, at 31-31, overall.

"We go out in the second half, we're free-flowing, we score 61 points, we had 19 assists," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "The ball was moving. Everybody was playing for each other. The second half, we missed shots, we didn't get calls and it affected us."

The Bulls got very frustrated with the calls in the second half. Hoiberg picked up an intentional technical with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter. The Bulls shot just 28.6 percent (10-for-35) in the second half.

"We've got to find a way to fight through the tough times, understand what makes us a successful team," Hoiberg said. "When we get it up the floor, we're pretty tough to stop. That all stopped the second half."

There was a strange turning point for the Bulls in the third quarter. When Rajon Rondo knocked down a corner 3-pointer, the Bulls led 71-70 with 4:52 left in the quarter. But after hitting the shot, Rondo started to head the other way and turned his right ankle when he stepped on the foot of Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers, who coached Rondo in Boston, was standing with both feet out of bounds when it happened, so it was clearly an accident that Rondo should have avoided.

Rondo eventually returned to the game, but while he was in the locker room getting his ankle retaped, the Bulls were outscored 12-2 to finish the quarter and never recovered.

For most of the second half, the Clippers' offense was give it to Crawford and get out of his way.

"He went one-on-one; you can't do nothing when he's going like that," Dwyane Wade said. "You're taking the ball out of the basket. It wasn't really a lot of defensive breakdowns as much as it was a guy making shots."

Hoiberg was on the team when Crawford, who turns 37 later this month, arrived as a rookie.

"It's unbelievable. He still looks the same and his game is the same," Hoiberg said before the game. "He's an incredible talent, that was the first thing I noticed about Jamal."

Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 16 points, but had a relatively quiet night with 7 shot attempts and 6 assists. Center Robin Lopez was the Bulls' second-leading scorer with 12 points.

"I just keep passing the ball to the open guy," Butler said."I want to get everybody involved. I think that's what coaches want me to do."

• Get the latest Bulls news via Twitter by following @McGrawDHBulls.

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