The Bulls put forth another putrid offensive showing Monday night. Hey, maybe it’s the rims.
As halftime warm-ups concluded, Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy bounced a ball to a bespectacled fan sitting courtside at the United Center. The man launched a 3-pointer — and came up short. He put aside his beer long enough to misfire a second time.
Gotta be the rims.
The Bulls lost again, falling to 3-10 since Derrick Rose went down and took his team’s hopes with him. This final score was Magic 83, Bulls 82.
It marked the fifth time in six games that the Bulls failed to shoot 40 percent from the field. They did top the 80-point mark, thanks to Dunleavy’s last-second heave from 46 feet.
The Bulls shot just 34.6 percent and missed their first nine from downtown before Luol Deng finally hit a 3 late in the third quarter.
After trailing almost the entire game, the Bulls cut it to 80-79 with 19 seconds to play on a lefty drive by Joakim Noah.
After Arron Afflalo made one of two free throws, Noah fired a perfect pass to Deng for a backdoor layup that would have tied the game. But Deng missed it. He reacted by lying on the floor, face up, in disbelief.
“Just a bad, bad miss. My fault,” Deng said. “I had the angle. Great pass by Jo. I missed the shot.”
Deng scored a game-high 26 points, a strong contrast to poor showings by Jimmy Butler (four points on 1-for-11) and Carlos Boozer (six points on 3-for-10).
While the results were the same, at least one of the faces changed.
With Kirk Hinrich sidelined with back stiffness and veteran Mike James waived, the Bulls started Marquis Teague at point guard. But he was benched with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first quarter. His assist-free opening stint featured two misses from in close and an errant jumper early in the shot clock.
D.J. Augustin replaced him and showed some promise. The former Texas star, acquired off waivers last week, finished with 14 points and eight assists in 37 minutes. Teague got shut out — no points or assists in 11 minutes.
“Coach wants me to look to shoot,” Augustin said of Tom Thibodeau, “but I’ve always been a pass-first guy, a penetrate-and-find guy. We have a lot of great shooters on this team.”
That’s debatable. Augustin distributed the ball well in the first half, but his teammates needed GPS to find the basket. Taj Gibson missed his four attempts, all inside 10 feet.
“We’re missing a lot of layups,” Thibodeau said. “That’s on me. We have to work harder on that in practice … doing them at a game-like speed.”
Without Hinrich, the Bulls appear ready to give Teague and Augustin a longer look. Asked if that was the motivation in releasing James, Thibodeau replied: “That’s part of it, but hopefully (we’ll) have Kirk back soon.”
How soon? It’s anyone’s guess.
Hinrich was unavailable to the media before the game, with a staffer saying he was getting treatment.
“The point guard has to run the team, and that’s probably one of the things that gets overlooked with Kirk,” Thibodeau said. “People tend to judge him on shooting percentage. (But) when he’s running the team, I know Carlos will have 15-17 shots and Lu will have 15-17 shots.”