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10 observations: Bulls meekly fall to shorthanded Wizards

DeMar DeRozan's halfcout heave is just long at buzzer of poor effort at home

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The Chicago Bulls started flat, lost their cool and got beat at home by a shorthanded team that entered with 13 victories. The 107-105 defeat to the Washington Wizards, finalized when DeMar DeRozan’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer was just long, quickly enters a crowded team picture for worst loss of the season.

"It sucks," DeRozan said. "All these games matter. You want to be playing good basketball towards this part of the season. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pissed off until we get back out on the court. We shouldn't drop games like this right now. We're resilient. But we can't live on the edge every game. We gotta leave it out there these last 10 games. We can't have no more excuses. We gotta play like your life depends on it."

Here are 10 observations:

---Corey Kispert posted his first double-double of his career and sank two huge free throws with 7.6 seconds left. Richaun Holmes also posted a double-double against his hometown team. And Jared Butler passed for 13 assists as the Wizards won their third straight in shocking fashion.

And with the Atlanta Hawks rallying from 30 points down to beat the Boston Celtics, the Bulls’ lead for ninth place and a home play-in game dropped to 1-1/2 games. The Bulls still face the Hawks once more at the United Center.

"We don't have the luxury to do that," coach Billy Donovan said, when asked if the Bulls played down to their competition.

---The game featured another instance of the Bulls losing their cool on multiple occasions. DeRozan flirted with a first-half technical for several minutes, upset over some no-calls, and had to be restrained by Coby White. Jevon Carter drew a technical foul for an apparent flop. Donovan held up and talked to Andre Drummond, who played well in the first half, when he argued a no-call as he entered a timeout huddle. And White kicked the scorer’s table as the first half concluded, for which he later apologized directly to NBC Sports Chicago broadcasters Adam Amin and Stacey King. And then Alex Caruso drew a flagrant-1 foul early in the third for blowing up Jordan Poole on a screen. Poole had knocked over Caruso on the previous possession with no call.

Donovan has talked multiple times this season about playing with an edge but under control emotionally.

"We didn't have a good night offensively," Donovan said of 41.4 percent shooting, including 28.6 percent from 3-point range.

---The Wizards played without---deep breath here---Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija, Tyus Jones, Eugene Omoruyi, Landry Shamet, Bilal Coulibaly and Isaiah Livers.

---That didn’t stop them from opening the game with a 15-0 run that featured Bulls coach Billy Donovan burning a timeout just 82 seconds after tipoff and the Wizards up 8-0. The Bulls missed their first seven shots and committed a turnover before Coby White scored on a driving layup at the 8 minute, 23 second mark of the first.

"We did have a couple breakdowns that I didn't like," Donovan said.

Added DeRozan: "We gotta be playing the right way. We missed shots. We turned the ball over. We let them feel themselves into the game. I think we gotta be more desperate."

---Caruso checked in as the sixth man at the 8:04 mark. Caruso was listed as probable with the ankle injury he suffered last game but Donovan said pregame he was a gametime decision. Donovan started Torrey Craig but ended up playing Caruso 33 minutes and starting him the second half.

Afterward, Donovan said he went to Caruso and told him he'd start Craig only because Caruso was going to be a gametime decision and he wanted to give Craig time to mentally prepare to start.

"Alex was great with it and said he totally gets it and totally understands," Donovan said. "And then I give Torrey credit because he came in at halftime and grabbed me and said, 'Hey, since AC is playing, let's start him (the second half) and go back to our normal lineup."

Caruso also became the first player in the NBA since Robert Covington in 2021-22 to post at least 100 made 3-pointers, 100 steals and 60 blocks.

---Making the 31-17 deficit after the first quarter even more inexcusable is the fact Poole drew three fouls and exited at the 7:09 mark of the first. Poole scored 10 points in his first 5 minutes and finished with 23.

---The Bulls missed their first nine 3-point attempts and finished 10-for-35 from beyond the arc. Ayo Dosunmu sank the first at the 1:50 mark of the first quarter.

---Jevon Carter played after two straight “Did Not Play---Coach’s Decision” designations. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes.

---Drummond finished with a double-double in just 19 minutes as Nikola Vucevic failed to make an early impact for the second straight game. Last game, Luke Kornet outrebounded him. On Monday, Vucevic failed to score in the first half before rallying to finish with nine points on just five shots.

"We did a better job to start the third quarter to find him," Donovan said. "That was one of the things I was disappointed with. We got into situations where the ball is being thrown back out and we have some younger guys who are just catching the ball and trying to put the ball down without reading the defense. We missed him way too much, especially in the first half."

---DeRozan scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth. The problem is the rest of the Bulls only scored nine points.

"It's really disappointing," Donovan said. "Just calling it like it is. But I have a lot of respect for our guys and they've been professional all year long and they gave an effort to get back in the game. The disappointing part is you see this happen all the time in the NBA. Guys go out and teams come back and win games. It just speaks to none of us think we're as good as we think we are because you have to show up and compete and perform, especially when you're playing against guys who are desperate to keep a job."

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