The veteran forward, after playing his first game with the Bulls since winning the 1998 NBA title, hopes he and his teammates can earn their fans’ praise with better play as they host the Atlanta Hawks.
Pippen walked onto the court to an enthusiastic United Center ovation on Wednesday, but the crowd quickly turned bitter as the Bulls lost 99-74 to tie a franchise record for the biggest margin of defeat in a season opener.
“We can get better,” said Pippen, who had seven points, seven rebounds and two assists, “but it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Only three players scored in double figures Wednesday for the Bulls, and they struggled with their shooting and defense.
Eddy Curry, who looked good during the preseason and seemed primed for a breakout season, managed just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting with six rebounds. The Bulls center averaged 10.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 2002-03.
Jalen Rose had 15 points for the Bulls, but was only 5-of-13 from the floor. Rose led the Bulls with 23.8 points per game last season.
Atlanta lost 88-83 in overtime to the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday.
Jackson had two fourth-quarter 3-pointers and a pair of free throws that tied the game at 75—a score that held through the final 30 seconds of regulation. Jackson, though, could not score in overtime and finished with seven turnovers.
Atlanta turned the ball over 27 times, leading to 30 Hornets points. The Hawks lost despite allowing the Hornets to shoot just 32 percent (35-for-108) from the field.
STANDINGS (through Oct. 29): Hawks - 4th place (tied), 1 GB, Central Division. Bulls - 4th place (tied), 1 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hawks - Jackson, 21 ppg; Abdur-Rahim, 16 rpg; Terry, 6 apg. Bulls - Rose, 15 ppg; Pippen and Baxter, 7 rpg; Crawford, 4 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.
LAST MEETING: March 18; Bulls, 103-78. At Chicago, Rose had 31 points and shot 11-for-18 from the floor to lead the Bulls.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hawks - 0-1 on the road. Bulls - 0-1 at home.