Just one day after setting a franchise record with three turnovers, one over the NBA record, the Bulls coughed up the rock a season-high 28 times, gifting the Brooklyn Nets 30 points, in a 96-80 loss at the Barclays Center.
The loss ended the Bulls four-game win streak along with ending four straight games of scoring 100 or more.
There wasn't a lack of focus or tired legs from the second night of a back to back to blame this one on. The Bulls (33-27) just played poorly.
"I thought they were very aggressive," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. "I think when that happens, you have to take the challenge and respond. And I think it's important to own your space, be strong with the ball, get them off you and that's what we didn't do. And that's what we've got to do."
Thibodeau likes to keep turnovers to 13 or less per game and if the Bulls could have held on to the ball, this could have been their 10th win in their last 11 as they outrebounded the Nets 43-28. But Brooklyn, without Kevin Garnett's, small lineup worked in their favor as their active hands and quickness to the ball gave the Bulls fits in trying to get into any offensive rhythm.
D.J. Augustin led the team with 16 points off the bench. Jimmy Butler added 13 and Taj Gibson contributed 12 and five rebounds in a foul-plagued 22 minutes in his return back to his hometown. A night after recording his second career triple-double, New York native Joakim Noah 10 points and six rebounds.
Five Nets scored in double figures, led by Deron Williams' 20 and Joe Johnson's 19.
"It was definitely a letdown," Noah told reporters. "We didn't play well tonight. We played well [Sunday]. The highs and lows of the NBA, it's all part of the journey. We're disappointed. Playing in front of your family, playing in front of your friends – you lay an egg, but you got to bounce back."
The Nets led the game wire-to-wire, but the Bulls last chance to seize momentum ended on a Butler carrying violation when they were within 80-71 halfway through the fourth period. Brooklyn responded with 8-0 run that effectively put the game out of reach.
"I think the energy was a bit different," Gibson told reporters. "No game in this league is easy, especially after the quick turnaround."
The Bulls will have a day to regroup before taking on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.