Too bad the Bulls didn't keep Bruce Bowen from that Toni Kukoc trade back in 2000.
If they had, they could have tried to sell all the boos that rained down Thursday night from a disgusted United Center crowd as chants for "Bruuuuuuce."
Any more efforts like this, and the Bulls might want to start hoping for that NIT bid, even if they still play Atlanta twice in their final 14 games.
The Bulls dropped two games behind the idle Hawks and Nets, who are tied for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Bulls also are tied for 10th with the Pacers, whom they face Saturday at the United Center.
Afterward, interim coach Jim Boylan looked inward.
"We didn't have our enthusiasm the way we needed it to be to compete against a team like San Antonio," he said. "As a coach, you look at yourself and say, 'Did I get my team ready to play?'
"I'd have to be honest and say I didn't have us ready to play. I'll shoulder that responsibility. Just as players need to be accountable, so does everybody else. We have to bounce back. These games are too important for us."
Asked specifically what he could have done differently, Boylan said he would sleep on the game.
"I'll reflect on it and do what I need to do to get our team ready for Saturday," he said. "We can't let this lack of enthusiasm be something that happens to us more than every once in awhile. We will bounce back."
Tim Duncan was ready Thursday. He schooled rookie Joakim Noah right from the opening tip, scoring the Spurs' first eight points and forcing Boylan to switch Drew Gooden onto the perennial All-Star.
Duncan finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Tony Parker added 23 points for the Spurs, who snapped their longest regular-season losing streak in seven years at four games. They last lost five straight, which they have done seven times, in 1996-97. Their reward? The right lottery combination to draft Duncan No. 1.
Kirk Hinrich sat with a sprained right ankle, which meant Ben Gordon started on Parker. The speedy Spurs guard abused Gordon—and anybody else who tried to guard him—most distinctly in the second quarter that the Spurs closed with a 24-8 run.
"Our defense was too soft," Boylan said.
The offense wasn't much better. Gordon and Larry Hughes combined to go 9 of 28 as the Bulls clanked to the rate of 37.8 percent with a season-low nine assists.
"We've been inconsistent all season," Gordon said. "I can't really say I'm surprised by our effort."
Luol Deng's 18 points topped the Bulls, which is a little like taking home the consolation prize from a game show. The Spurs, of course, have their eyes on their annual prize of an NBA championship trophy.
"We have the same look whether we win or lose," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We're the most boring team in the league. We're not funny. We're not sexy. We just sit there. But just because we lose doesn't mean we're dazed."
The Bulls were dazed and confused Thursday night.
Spurs 102, Bulls 80