Bulls looking to pick up the pieces and relocate that ‘chip’ after loss

The chip is back on the shoulder.

Sure, it has a few new cracks in it, some fresh mud, and that stain might just be blood, but it’s back.

“We have and we had a chip on our shoulder,” Zach LaVine said, trying to sound as confident as he could considering what happened late Wednesday night. “I don’t want to say we relaxed a little bit, but we can use this as fuel to get us back with that edge and start being the [team] that’s attacking rather than being attacked.”

They need something to help them find their way back.

In what was a storybook season going into the last week, the Bulls have now been forced to eat a huge piece of humble pie. Losing in Dallas on Sunday was one thing, but the blowout loss to Brooklyn at the United Center was rock bottom.

The ugly numbers do more than support that, as the Bulls allowed a season worst 138 points, allowed the Nets to shoot 56% from the field and 53% from three, all but laying down in the second half thanks to a Brooklyn 43-8 run.

Yes, all for a national television audience to witness.

“Getting your butt kicked on national television is not a fun thing after playing a pretty solid first half,” LaVine said. “It brings you back down to earth. You just want to go and see why you lost the way you did. Good teams come out in the third quarter and put teams to sleep. We’ve done that to teams before … we had it done to us [by the Nets].”

Two life preservers that the Bulls can float on?

They still won the season series with the Nets in case the Eastern Conference crown does come down to a tie-breaking scenario. And they were still without their “dawgs” on defense.

Not having Alex Caruso (health and safety protocol), and Javonte Green (groin), and then losing Derrick Jones Jr. in the first quarter with a knee injury, was more than felt.

“It just sucks DJ went down,” veteran DeMar DeRozan said. “We haven’t had Alex in a while, Javonte is out. [That’s] the heart and soul of our team. We kind of lean on them to bring that super edge, especially defensively we haven’t had and we kind of feed off. Once we get those guys back pretty sure we’ll be right where we left off at.”

Maybe, but it’s not that simple, either. Caruso and Green will help, but the attention to detail on defense has slipped the last month, covered up by a nine-game winning streak in which the shooting was eventually going to become unsustainable.

Coach Billy Donovan had been warning his players of the slipping defense both privately and publicly, and maybe he really has their ear after this one.

“The best way for teams to learn is going through experiences,” Donovan said. “We have to earn our way to play in the post season. I love the responsibility that comes with where we are now [in the standings]. We have to understand what we’re going to be getting from other teams. Some of the things I’ve been talking about the last eight, ten, 12 games you can see when you get into certain situations you are not going to be able to get away with that.

“My whole focus is we have to get better.”

And if the playoffs work out the right way, they’ll also have to focus on how to beat Brooklyn’s three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

“It’s something we’re going to have to face if we want to go where we need to,” LaVine said. “We’ve got the split on them right now, we won’t get to play them again [until the playoffs], so we’ll see what’s up.”

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