CHICAGO -- Consistency has been a hallmark of the Tom Thibodeau era. The Bulls have won, defended and played hard with metronomic regularity.
Now, beyond the lineup switching almost nightly due to myriad injuries, you never know what you're going to get.
Failing to capitalize on any momentum generated from Friday's come-from-behind victory in Milwaukee, the Bulls came up extremely flat in a 99-77 loss to the Raptors on Saturday night at the United Center.
Those weren't chants for Carlos Boozer trickling down from the 300 level during the fourth quarter.
Not even the return of Luol Deng from missing four games with a sore left Achilles could salvage an effort that featured 36 percent shooting. Of course, losing Kirk Hinrich to a bad back -- the latest in a string of seemingly nightly injuries -- didn't help matters.
In just their 22nd game, the Bulls used their 10th different lineup because of the widespread injuries. Even Thibodeau's pregame declaration of "next man up get the job done" sounded flat.
Deng looked solid with a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds. But 15 of those points came in the first half, and his career-best string of six straight games with 20 or more points ended.
Joakim Noah posted his third straight double-double and fifth in six games with 10 points and 12 rebounds. But plenty of Bulls struggled offensively.
New acquisition D.J. Augustin missed six of seven shots. Boozer clanked 14 of 18.
"They're swarming him a lot quicker," Thibodeau said of the defensive attention Boozer is drawing. "As we add shooting, that gives him more space. I think that will help him get some more looks.
"The challenge for him is to get post depth and then if he catches outside the lane, he's got to make the right play when the help comes. He's just got to keep working, run the floor more, get some easy ones."
Nothing is coming easy offensively for the Bulls, who have failed to shoot better than 40 percent in four of the last five and nine of the last 14.
Defensively, the Bulls allowed 48.2 percent shooting and five Raptors to hit double figures, topped by Kyle Lowry's 16 points. Any hopes for a second straight late comeback were dashed when the Raptors reeled off a 26-5 run in the fourth quarter.
"You're limited because D.J. doesn't know the offense," Thibodeau said. "You're trying to minimize your turnovers and get a good shot. You have everyone re-adjusting again.
"But I thought defensively, we played just as poorly. If we could've played our defense, we would've had a good chance of winning."
Beforehand, Raptors coach Dwane Casey talked about the Bulls' physical play, about how few teams like to play them because of their physical consistency. But consistency is long gone from this season, and Casey surely alluded to memories when he said the Bulls "play playoff basketball every night."
Like their health this season, playoff-like performances are long gone on a consistent basis.
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