Bulls lose six straight, enter All-Star break in search of identity

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for the Bulls, they now head into the All-Star break under the cloud of a 112-100 loss to the Bucks that extended their losing streak to six games Thursday night at the United Center.

“There’s a difference between losing a game and getting beat,” coach Billy Donovan said before the game. “There’s been some games where we’ve felt like we lost the game. A lot of times, that’s where frustration can come in.”

Against the Pacers on Wednesday, the Bulls (26-33) gave up a 24-point lead and essentially rolled over. But the Bucks (41-17), in racking up their 12th straight win, beat the Bulls convincingly — and in the process snapped their 20-game win streak on TNT dating to 2013. Adding insult to injury, they did it without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton or Bobby Portis.

Antetokounmpo started the game but went to the locker room in the second quarter to have his right wrist looked at after hitting the floor hard with Bulls guard Coby White. Both players got up and appeared fine, but Antetokounmpo exited moments later clutching his hand. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a sprained wrist after contributing seven rebounds and three assists in only nine minutes.

Brook Lopez scored a game-high 33 points for the Bucks, and Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with a double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds. Zach LaVine added 18 points and four rebounds.

If there was one bright spot, it was rookie Dalen Terry putting up the first double-figure performance of his career with 13 points off the bench. In the second quarter, he put together a sequence that exemplified how he has been able to take advantage of his minutes. He followed his own missed shot for a putback, then followed that by driving the lane for another easy lay-in on the next possession. His final numbers included seven rebounds and six assists.

“I give him credit,” Donovan said afterward. “He was really disappointed after [the Pacers] game. He played so well in the Orlando game. He expected more of himself with the way he played. I visited with him before the game and said this is part of being in the NBA. You have to be able to move to the next game.”

Despite Terry’s added minutes over the last three games, a healthy roster means someone has to sit, and Donovan said he’ll be looking at different lineups and rotations during the All-Star break, which couldn’t come at a better time for the Bulls. Aside from DeMar DeRozan and Ayo Dosunmu participating in the All-Star Game and Rising Stars Challenge, respectively, the team will have nothing but time to recharge and re-evaluate. They’re two games behind the Raptors for the last play-in spot in the East.

While relaxation is important, there’s no rest for the weary as far as Donovan is concerned.

“I don’t get away because I have to deal with myself,” Donovan said. “That’s the best way to say it. Because you’re not coming in every single day, whether for practice, preparation, shootaround, that kind of things, you try to use the time as much as you can to look at ways myself and our staff can help the players.”

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