The Chicago Bulls need something to help them end their longest losing streak in more than eight years. A trip to Philadelphia might help.
Trying to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, the injury-riddled Bulls look to avoid an 11th consecutive loss when they face the lowly 76ers on Saturday night.
Playing without stars Derrick Rose(notes), Luol Deng(notes) and Joakim Noah(notes), Chicago (31-37) was competitive but lost 92-85 at home to Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland on Friday. The Bulls have dropped 10 straight for the first time since Nov. 7-21, 2001.
The Bulls, who haven’t lost 11 in a row since a 16-game skid from Jan. 8-Feb. 6, 2001, are ninth in the East, 2 1/2 games behind Toronto, which currently occupies the final playoff spot.
If there’s a bright spot for the Bulls, it’s that their nine-game stretch against playoff contenders is over as they try to take three of four from Philadelphia (24-45) this season. Though the 76ers beat Chicago 106-103 in overtime at home Feb. 3, they’ve lost six of seven and 14 of 18 overall.
Philadelphia’s struggles might offer hope for the Bulls, who could be without their All-Star Rose (sprained wrist) for a fifth straight game and Noah (foot) for an 11th consecutive contest. Deng could miss the rest of the season with a strained right calf that’s forced him to miss the last five games.
Rose, averaging a team-leading 20.4 points and 5.7 assists, is considered a game-time decision.
“It’s tough and it’s maddening,” coach Vinny Del Negro told the Bulls’ official Web site. “But you can’t control those things. Derrick, Joakim and Luol all want to be out there, and we want to get back to the way of playing the way we’re capable of. But that’s not going to happen now for a little while.”
Rookie Taj Gibson(notes) had 20 points and 13 rebounds Friday as the Bulls held an opponent to fewer than 100 points for the first time in 12 games. But Chicago shot 39.3 percent and got outrebounded 53-41.
Even with Rose, Deng and Noah in the lineup, Gibson also had 20 points with 13 rebounds in Chicago’s 122-90 home win over the 76ers on Feb. 20.
Brand, averaging 18.9 points and 11.2 boards in 16 career games against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1999, scored 19 in Philadelphia’s 92-88 loss at New York on Friday. However, he was limited to two points and four shots in the second half as the 76ers were unable to hold a 12-point first-half lead.
“I’m not out there just fully a black hole, I pass the ball,” Brand said. “So I definitely would like some more touches in that situation because they know I’m hot, so they’re going to pay attention to me.”