Losers of seven straight, including three under Johnson, the Clippers took an 81-70 lead into the fourth quarter. They went four minutes without scoring, but the Bulls managed just four points during that stretch.
“It’s great to break that streak,” Clippers guard Corey Maggette said. “We’ve been trying and trying as a team to do it and it just seemed to fall apart in the fourth quarter. Tonight, credit the players as they really came out and played hard.”
“They played pretty good zone defense,” Curry said. “We took ourselves out of the game. We were not focused. We just weren’t ourselves.”
A pair of 3-pointers by rookie Jay Williams sliced the Bulls’ 10-point deficit to 97-93 with 54 seconds to play. But Andre Miller, Maggette and Eric Piatkowski combined for six free throws to seal Los Angeles’ win.
Maggette led the Clippers with 25 points and Quentin Richardson added 21 off the bench. Miller totaled 12 and 10 assists.
The Clippers outscored the Bulls in only one quarter, posting a 31-17 advantage in the second. Los Angeles shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) in the period, going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“It had nothing to do with our offense,” Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. “Our offense is fine. It has been fine all year. Turn around and guard somebody, turn around and put your body on somebody, play some defense, dive on a loose ball, take a charge, block a shot. We are averaging 93 points a game. It is plenty. This crap about offense … guard somebody!”
Cartwright’s message might be a bit lost on some of his players, like Rose, who had two of Chicago’s four steals.
“I think we know how to play defense,” Rose said. “The biggest misconception is that you basically cannot guard anyone one-on-one. What we don’t do a good job of is helping one another and talking. We stand in front of our own guy and when the defense breaks down we don’t find a way to help out and talk. That is a trait good teams have.”
The Bulls have done little to resemble a good team. They lost for the fourth time in five games and suffered their 42nd setback of the season, ensuring their fifth straight losing campaign.
Chicago forced Los Angeles into just eight turnovers, and the Clippers did a good job on the offensive glass, pulling down 13 of their own misses.
“We made very few mistakes,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have many turnovers. We rebounded well and executed well. Tonight, we played a pretty good game offensively and defensively. It just worked out well and I couldn’t ask the guys to do any more than they did.”
Los Angeles won for just the ninth time in 30 road games.