The five worst moments of the Bulls’ season.
How bad was this Bulls season? Depends on one’s criteria.
It probably felt like the worst ever from a fan’s perspective. Between the times the team was on the wrong side of the scoreboard, the messy coaching change and the string of injuries, it added up to months of misery.
Quantitatively, this season’s 22-60 record and .268 winning percentage were not dead last. The franchise’s most dreadful record in terms of winning percentage came in 2000-01, when the Bulls were 15-67 (.183). The 1998-99 squad managed a franchise-low 13 wins, but that season was only 50 games.
The Bulls were 5-19 (.208) in December when they made a coaching change, ousting Fred Hoiberg for assistant coach Jim Boylen, who went 17-41 (.293). Call it incremental progress.
Much of team’s struggles could be blamed on a lack of health. The Bulls lost 276 player games to injury or illness, including Denzel Valentine’s zero games played.
This year’s Bulls spent 16 days in the basement of the Eastern Conference and five days in last place in the NBA. They finished with the fifth-worst record in franchise history by winning percentage.
Yet all those dour figures only begin to capture how headache-inducing this season was. Here’s how we rank their worst moments.
5. Nice to see you?
The longest the Bulls went without a win this season? That would be 10 games, from Dec. 30 to Jan. 19. The last of those defeats came in Dwyane Wade’s final game in Chicago, a 117-103 Heat win. Wade went for 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes off the bench.
4. Hard feelings
Although the trade the Bulls made Feb. 6 was not the only one they executed this season, it appeared to be the most seismic.
Right before tipoff against the Pelicans at the United Center, they dealt Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to the Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. The Tribune’s K.C. Johnson reported that Portis, who earlier in the week said he hoped to stay with the Bulls, looked emotional as he left the United Center.
Parker in particular was in disbelief that Portis was dealt.
“It’s just surprising to me because Bobby is — quote, unquote — the leader, the captain of our team and just a guy they loved,” Parker said. “For him to get moved is obviously bitter.”
To top it all off, the Bulls lost 125-120 to the Pelicans, at the time tying a franchise record with their ninth straight home defeat.
3. Home not-so-sweet home
In losing 96-86 to the Knicks — ahem, the team that ended up with the worst record in the NBA — on April 9 at the United Center, the Bulls set a franchise record with 32 home losses.
It was the final gut punch during a season that included a franchise-record 11 straight home losses.
2. Worst. Loss. Ever.
On Dec. 8, the Bulls lost 133-77 to the Celtics at the United Center. It goes down as the worst defeat in franchise history, and it knocked the Bulls into last place in the East at 6-21.
They trailed 17-0 before Jabari Parker scored the Bulls’ first points on free throws at the 5:42 mark. Robin Lopez finally made the team’s first field goal at the 5:06 mark.
Boylen not once but twice substituted all five starters, and he kept the starters on the bench for the final 21 minutes.
“I do not know,” a frustrated Zach LaVine said afterward, trying to explain how the game got away from the Bulls.
“There’s a lot of questions you could ask, but I really don’t know.”
1. A near mutiny
If there was anything that could sink the Bulls lower than the worst loss in franchise history (see No. 2), this was it.
On Dec. 9, the fallout arrived swiftly as some players raised the possibility of boycotting practice via a text chain but ended up holding a players-only meeting, which was followed by a team meeting with coaches and management.
“This is a family thing,” Boylen said, adding it was his decision not to hold practice. “This is open lines of communication. We’re still learning about each other. … They’re still learning how I want it.
“There’s been a little shock and awe here in the last seven days and there’s an adjustment to that. And that’s OK.”
Bulls rookie Chandler Hutchison gets a good look at Semi Ojeleye's dunk during the Celtics' 133-77 victory Dec. 8 at the United Center. The 56-point loss was the worst in franchise history.