It was a sad night at the United Center.

The #TNTBulls streak, alive for ten years, but dormant for six, is over. The Bulls drop their sixth straight game, losing 112-110 to the Bucks. The Bulls are now 26-33, tying a season-worst seven games below .500. They are two games out of the tenth seed and two games away from falling to 13th. All the teams in their vicinity own the tiebreaker over them (Indiana, Washington, Orlando).

The Bulls are down bad, and they know it. They need the All-Star break.

“We have an uphill battle, but hopefully we can get away from it, recharge a little bit and come back a more hungry team, because obviously what we’ve been doing isn’t good enough,” Zach LaVine told reporters after Thursday’s game.

Wipe away the stats and the analytics, the previous accomplishments and awards, the Bulls are still struggling with the same things Billy Donovan has been preaching since this time last year.

The Bulls can’t play with a lead. They can’t problem-solve on the fly, withstand a run or stop momentum before it envelopes them.

“Clearly, we’ve got to find ways to help them more,” Billy Donovan said pre-game. “Not just myself, but all of us. Because it’s going to happen, an NBA swing in just an average NBA game, it’s going to happen. But how do you shut those things off? What causes runs? How do you stop momentum, how do you gain momentum? And I think what we’ve done in terms of at least trying to address or talk about it, I think we’ve got to come up with different things to try to help them with that, quite honestly.”

The Bulls have been searching for the answer to this question since their post-All-Star skid last season. It’s the same trope Donovan has been pushing for over a year. No one in the locker room has the answer, and that’s part of the problem — if they knew, they would fix it.

“I do know, in situations like that, what doesn’t work is frustration, divide, that just doesn’t work,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to solve it and overcome it. And when you do overcome it, I think it really creates a stronger bond, that when you are in those situations, you believe you can overcome those.”

The Bulls believe in the character of their group. And that’s an important factor in how the team was built. Arturas Karnisovas said “relationships win championships” during his Media Day availability in September. He doubled down on that sentiment by standing pat the the trade deadline after keeping the same roster heading into the season.

And to be fair, with the talent on the roster, the Bulls should be better than this. But as they enter the break, with 25 games to go, the only thing that matters now is the record, and the ground they still have to make up.

“Your record is what it is,” LaVine said. “For us, we’ve shown we can beat anybody and also we’re able to lose to everybody too. You take it for what it is. Let it hurt, let it sting. You can’t just keep avoiding it and thinking you’re someone that you’re not.”

Up Next: All-Star Break


Lead Writer and podcast co-host for CHGO covering the Chicago Bulls. A fan of the side-step and well executed defensive rotations. Previously covered the Golden State Warriors for Bleacher Report and the Bulls for the Athletic Chicago. Say hi on Twitter @will_gottlieb