The Bulls do slow starts like a turkey farmer does Thanksgiving—annually and thoroughly.
From 0-9 to the playoffs in 2004-05 to 3-9 and the playoffs last season, early-season futility is nothing new.
Now might be the time for that.
The Clippers shot the lights out early and then hung on for a 97-91 victory at the United Center, which had 21,742 present but sounded like a library at times.
That's what four straight losses to open a season of big expectations will do.
And with daunting home games upcoming against the Pistons and Raptors, the gaping hole the Bulls have created could get deeper and uglier in a hurry.
"It's lack of execution," guard Ben Gordon said. "We haven't followed the game plan.
"But I don't think the players are panicked. We realize we're not playing well. We just need to play our game. If that doesn't work, then you can start to panic."
Gordon's three-pointer with 4 minutes 7 seconds to play handed the Bulls an 89-85 lead. Befitting the wheels-off nature of this young season, however, that marked the last field goal the Bulls made.
Seven straight misses piled up before Gordon drained two free throws with 25.9 seconds left.
By then, Cuttino Mobley, who dominated a consistent matchup with Kirk Hinrich to the tune of 33 points, had scored on a layup. Corey Maggette, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds, had scored on a fast-break dunk to tie the game at 89-89.
Maggette had hit a three-pointer following a Hinrich miss to give the Clippers the lead for good with 2:11 to play. And following a missed short jumper by Luol Deng, Mobley had drained a 14-foot fadeaway for a 94-89 bulge.
"We did several things better," Skiles said. "But when it was time to make big plays, we had trouble. We missed layups, three-on-one possession. And a couple of times we weren't able to get back on transition. And they just seized the game.
"One-on-one defense, they just drove right by us. If you're playing somebody on the wing, you have to do more than get faked and allow a straight-line drive to the basket."
Hinrich, in particular, struggled, although Skiles uncharacteristically offered Hinrich the out that he's guarding larger players, which he is.
"It's tough," Hinrich said. "[Mobley] would bang me and knock me back and I couldn't get the lift to challenge his shot the way I wanted to."
A scorching Mobley hit all 10 of his first-half shots and had 24 points at the break. He sparked a 13-0, second-quarter run that snapped a 31-31 tie with eight points, practically counting the seams before shooting because he was so open.
Time and again, the Bulls left shooters to help on defense, only to be burned by 7-for-11 three-point shooting by the Clippers by halftime.
Meanwhile, the Bulls shot 35.7 percent overall.
Deng led the Bulls with 22 points and Joe Smith scored 10 of his 17 in the fourth quarter.
Gordon, in an attempt to jump-start his slow start offensively, tried to attack the rim but shot 4-for-18 and got to the line only six times besides a technical foul shot.
"We're continuously driving it into other teams' big people and flailing and losing the ball," Skiles said. "I don't know if we're expecting foul calls or what."
As if a 0-4 start for a team with high expectations isn't shocking enough, Skiles turned the Bulls' world even more off its axis with his mellow postgame demeanor, going all Dr. Phil on those present.
"I'm not much of a panic guy," he insisted. "Early in my life when I had some of my own personal difficulties, I grew up quite a bit and learned not to panic. We'll try to figure out why we're not playing well."
The Bulls have enough practice at such early-season scrutiny.
Clippers 97, Bulls 91