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Bulls vs. Spurs recap: It was Light Work for Short-Handed San Antonio

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Was this the new worst loss of the season?

NBA: Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls fell to the San Antonio Spurs 133-94 on Saturday night in a game that was never really competitive. The Bulls have successfully (?) dropped to 2-9 on the season improving their standing in the season-long NBA tankathon, but unlike some losses this year you couldn’t call it promising.

The Spurs convincingly dismantled the Bulls without the services of Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard. The Bulls have now dropped four games in a row (their longest losing streak of the season), but after priding themselves on competitive losses for most of the season, the Bull have dropped their last two games by an average of 28.5 points.

Rookie sensation Lauri Markkanen left the game at halftime with a left ankle sprain.

Quietly, Markkanen has accumulated an impressive array of injuries during his young NBA career. He missed some practice time last week with a sore quad, and missed several games during the preseason with back spasms. Injuries are never good but, from a more selfish perspective, Bulls fans need Markkanen to be healthy simply because the offense becomes almost unwatchable when he’s not in the lineup.

Speaking of unwatchable offense, the latest advanced metrics on “Hoiball” have the Bulls offense last in the NBA in offensive rating (93.8), pace (97.96), and in true shooting percentage (49.7 percent).

In stark contrast, the beautiful Spurs offense generated open look after open look on Saturday night with crisp ball movement, and the Spurs capitalized hitting 18 of the 27 (66.6 percent) 3-point field goals they attempted. In addition, divisive former Bull Pau Gasol poured in 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field, while LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 points on a very efficient 7-for-11 from the field.

Since David Nwaba went down with a severe ankle sprain on Nov. 4, the Bulls have been lackluster in the effort department, and the loss against the Spurs on Saturday night was perhaps their worst team effort of the season.

Perhaps most discouraging was the fact that the Spurs continued to add on to their already imposing lead with the third stringers playing in garbage time against the Bulls second unit and some starters. It sounds like one of head coach Fred Hoiberg’s legendary “hardest practices of the year” is in order over the next few day as punishment.

“(Youth) shouldn't factor in effort," Hoiberg said. "If anything, that should be the constant every night — that you're playing hard. We've done that for the most part this season except the last few games. It's unacceptable.” 

"We'll see who wants to compete in practice the next couple of days. Everything is up for grabs."

-Per Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson

Post-Punch Portis (trademark) continues to produce. He poured in 17 points on 5-for-11 from the field to lead all Bulls scorers (along with Robin Lopez who also had 17 points). Since returning from his suspension, Portis has averaged 19.3 points on an efficient 48.8 percent from the field while dishing out a surprising 2.3 assists per game. However, there were some bloopers for Portis including a pass from Lopez that hit him in the shoulder because he wasn’t looking and led to a turnover as well as this embarrassing rejection at the end of the game.

Portis either really took K.C. Johnson’s challenge to heart (that he wouldn’t score 20 points every night after doing it in his first game back), or he figured that the best way to stick it to Nikola Mirotic was to play so well that it cuts into Mirotic’s playing time.

Regardless of motive or in-game context, Portis has been the Bulls best player over the last three games.

The Bulls have a bit of a break before returning to action on Wednesday against the Thunder. The first meeting between the two teams resulted in an ugly 101-69 Bulls loss.

Finally, an update on the tank race because scoreboard watching to see how far the Bulls have fallen in the tanking rankings has given fans purpose this season. Snipped from ESPN.com.