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updated: 12/8/2017 6:23 AM

Where does this Chicago Bulls' losing streak rank in franchise history?

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  • Chicago Bulls guard David Nwaba (11) falls to the floor as he shoots while Sacramento Kings players Frank Mason III (10), Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (8) watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

    Chicago Bulls guard David Nwaba (11) falls to the floor as he shoots while Sacramento Kings players Frank Mason III (10), Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (8) watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

 
 

When the Chicago Bulls squandered a 17-point lead and lost Wednesday at Indiana, it pushed their losing streak to 10 games, tied for fourth worst in franchise history.

Most losing streaks have a theme, and this one features blown leads. Wednesday's defeat was the third time the Bulls lost after leading by at least 17 points.

Some would say the rebuilding Bulls need to learn how to win. Others would claim there aren't enough talented players on the floor, and when opponents crank up the fourth-quarter defense, the Bulls fall apart.

Both views are correct.

"For some of us, it's our first time being in these types of games," guard Kris Dunn said after the Indiana loss. "Once we work on our offensive execution, everything will be a lot smoother."

Maybe. What will help most is adding good players. Nikola Mirotic should make his season debut Friday in Charlotte, which could help. Zach LaVine should return from ACL surgery in a few weeks, which probably will help more.

Meanwhile, here's a look back at some of the other low points in franchise history:

16 consecutive losses:

Jan. 8-Feb. 6, 2001

This streak was truly peak Tim Floyd era.

A severely undermanned Bulls team worked hard and held several fourth-quarter leads but couldn't finish off a win until beating Atlanta at home after a dreary ice-show road trip. Twelve of the losses in this streak were by fewer than 10 points, and 11 came on the road.

The most memorable stretch happened early on, with back-to-back heartbreakers against the Charlotte Hornets. The first was on the road in triple overtime, then the Bulls blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead at the United Center and lost by 1. David Wesley hit a game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds left on the anniversary of teammate Bobby Phills' death in a car accident.

13 consecutive losses:

Oct. 29-Dec. 3, 1976

This season began with some optimism because the Bulls added Artis Gilmore in the ABA dispersal draft and chose former Indiana star Scott May with the No. 2 pick in the college draft.

But the start of the season was ugly, with the Bulls going 2-14 thanks to this losing streak. The Bulls traded Bob Love to the New York Nets for a second-round pick during this skid, which was tough to swallow after Jerry Sloan and Chet Walker retired a year earlier.

But this turned out to be one of the most exciting endings in team history as Gilmore, Norm Van Lier and Mickey Johnson led the Bulls to a 20-4 finish, made the playoffs, then lost a memorable three-game series to eventual champ Portland. One modern tie-in: Quincy Pondexter's uncle Cliff played on this Bulls team.

11 consecutive losses:

Dec. 11, 1999-Jan. 3, 2000

This was the worst stretch of basketball in franchise history, when the Bulls started 2-26 while Toni Kukoc sat out with a back injury and rookies Elton Brand and Ron Artest struggled to carry the load. The streak finally ended when Kukoc returned and the Bulls won back-to-back games against a hapless Washington Wizards team.

10 consecutive losses:

Nov. 16-Dec. 8, 1999

Fred Hoiberg played a role in the Bulls' first victory of the 1999-2000 season. He was the leading scorer with 18 points when the Bulls somehow pulled off a 92-91 victory over Boston at the United Center, prompting one of the great quotes of the dreary post-championship years.

Badgered by a Boston reporter about how devastating a loss this was against a lousy Bulls team, Celtics coach Rick Pitino snapped back, "They're going to win more than one game." He was right. They finally got that second win about three weeks later by beating New Jersey at home.

10 consecutive losses:

Nov. 7-Nov. 27, 2001

While the Bulls restarted their rebuild by adding high-schoolers Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, the NBA gifted a particularly long circus road trip of seven games, which made up the bulk of this skid.

The trip ended with a four-day stop in New York City, and the Bulls were given a special tour of the World Trade Center site in its early stages of cleanup. Then they lost to the Nets by 32 points a day later.

Also of note, the second loss in this streak was the 127-74 drubbing in Minnesota, still the franchise record for worst loss. Coach Tim Floyd provided maybe the most memorable line of his tenure when he said, "We couldn't have beaten a snappy junior-high team tonight."

10 consecutive losses:

Feb. 27-March 19, 2010

This was a strange season for the Bulls. A little more than a month after becoming the first team in league history to win five straight road games against teams with winning records, the Bulls lost 10 in a row.

Joakim Noah, suffering from plantar fasciitis, missed every game in this streak, which began after VP John Paxson confronted coach Vinny Del Negro about playing Noah too many minutes in a win over Portland.

Then Derrick Rose was injured for the second time that season after colliding with Orlando's Dwight Howard and missed three games. When Rose came back, the Bulls finally snapped the streak with a win at Philadelphia and recovered to make the playoffs.

9 consecutive losses:

Nov. 5-Nov. 22, 2004

The Bulls have had plenty of nine-game losing streaks, but a couple are worth mentioning here.

This season appeared to be another dreary death march when the Bulls started 0-9 and bottomed out at 4-15. But coach Scott Skiles led a remarkable turnaround behind rookies Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon.

The Bulls not only made the playoffs but had homecourt advantage in the first round, finishing with a 48-34 record. They also started 0-9 in the franchise's second season in 1967-68, were 1-15 at one point, yet made the playoffs with a 29-53 record under coach Johnny "Red" Kerr.

9 consecutive losses:

March 23-April 5, 1984

Probably the most important losing streak in franchise history, since it helped secure the No. 3 pick in the 1984 draft, when the Bulls chose Michael Jordan.

Every loss counted that year as the Bulls finished just 1 game behind Cleveland. Of course, the Cavaliers already had traded their pick to Dallas (remember the Ted Stepien Rule), and there's little doubt the Mavs would have taken Jordan ahead of Sam Perkins, who went fourth.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls.

Needing a win

To avoid matching a franchise-worst 16-game losing streak, the Bulls must win one of their next six games. Here are the opponents, with W-L record through Thursday:

Friday: at Charlotte (9-14)

Saturday: vs. New York (12-12)

Monday: vs. Boston (22-4)

Dec. 13: vs. Utah (13-12)

Dec. 15: at Milwaukee (13-10)

Dec. 18: vs. Philadelphia (13-10)

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