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Clippers have their way with Bulls again as defense sputters

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While it wasn’t the season-worst 39-point loss they suffered one full day after Derrick Rose went down for the season, the Bulls 112-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers was just as embarrassing as their opponent seemingly got anything they wanted when they wanted to on the Bulls home floor.

The Clippers jumped on the Bulls early, scoring 41 in the first quarter, connecting on seven of eight three-pointers. They led by as many as 21 points, shot 53.9 percent percent from the floor and 61.9 percent from 3-pt. range (13-21), bringing a screeching halt to a four-game win streak.

“That was pretty much the story of the game,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We gave up 41 points, we gave up threes. We gave up 13 three’s, we didn’t cover the line. You can’t win like that. We can’t lose sight of how hard we have to play to win. We made it real hard on ourselves because we game them confidence to start the game. They pretty much had their way. Their intensity was high, they were into us defensively.

“There was no aspect of our defense that was up to our standards, in terms of pressure and technique; we didn’t remain disciplined.”

Carlos Boozer, back from a one-game absence due to a sore left calf, led the team with 22 points. Joakim Noah notched his 15th straight game with double-digit rebounds, finishing with 12 points and 13 rebounds, also adding six assists. Taj Gibson added 16 points off the bench.

Despite the Bulls (21-21) playing catchup after the first quarter, they were able to get some stops in the second quarter to get their deficit down to eight and once again, going on an 11-4 run in the third quarter to make their deficit eight, again. But it was as close as they would get as the Clippers always had a response.

“That’s the most three’s I’ve seen anyone hit on us in a while,” Gibson said. “13, we strive for five or less. We kept making strong pushes. We just kept trying to chop (the lead) down piece by piece, but each time, they would hit a three. We got to bounce back. It’s one of those games…you get humbled in this league real fast. When you’re feeling good and you’re proud of the things you’re doing, somebody comes smack you back to reality.”

Blake Griffin led six Clippers, who scored in double figures with 26 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

The Bulls will head to Charlotte to try and bounce back against the Bobcats on Saturday.

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