Vinny Del Negro held on to his job through Christmas Eve, something two other Chicago Bulls coaches couldn’t pull off this decade.
Del Negro’s time could run out, however, if the Bulls don’t begin winning more regularly, and they’ll try to start Saturday night against the visiting New Orleans Hornets.
The Bulls forced Tim Floyd to resign on Dec. 24, 2001, and fired Scott Skiles on that same day six years later. They’re sticking with Del Negro for now despite a 5-16 mark since Nov. 10.
“I have to get better. The team has to get better,” Del Negro said. “There’s no question, but that’s the challenge. To me, life is about challenges.”
The start to his second season as Bulls coach has included a number of blowout defeats and the NBA’s worst collapse in 13 seasons earlier this week.
The Bulls (10-17) set a dubious team record by blowing a 35-point lead in Monday night’s 102-98 home loss to the Kings. The next evening, their comeback fell short in an 88-81 defeat in New York.
“We can’t play just a half of basketball,” Del Negro said. “We’re not that good of a team to do that.”
The Bulls will try to take advantage of a team that’s had more than a few bad nights away from home this season.
The Hornets (13-14) are a Western Conference-worst 2-11 on the road and are only a half-game ahead of last-place Memphis in the Southwest Division.
New Orleans has won three of four overall, but each victory came at home, including Wednesday night’s 108-102 defeat of Golden State.
“Not only do we get that chance, but it’s on the road again,” Paul told the Hornets’ official Web site. “(We) get a chance to prove ourselves.”
Paul averaged 26.1 points during his first nine games of the season, but is averaging 17.2 in nine games since returning from a sprained left ankle. However, he’s handed out 12.7 assists per game since coming back and the Hornets have gone 6-3.
The All-Star point guard has thrived in seven career meetings against the Bulls, averaging 24.3 points on 56.9 percent shooting and 10.7 assists. However, his team-leading 29 points in New Orleans’ previous trip to the United Center on March 14 didn’t help the Hornets avoid a season sweep.
No teammate scored more than 10 points in that 97-79 loss in Chicago, and Paul missed a 107-93 home defeat to the Bulls on Feb. 4 with a strained groin.