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Bulls' schedule takes brutal turn
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/18/2007 12:18 AM

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The schedule eventually catches up with every NBA team, and the Bulls are about to face their first stretch of four games in five nights.

After hosting the Lakers tonight, the Bulls visit Washington on Wednesday, Boston on Friday, then return home with Houston on Saturday.

This is bad news for the Bulls (8-13). So far this season, they are 0-5 when playing the second leg of back-to-back nights.

The first four times it happened, they averaged 77.3 points and never shot better than 38 percent from the field.

During their fifth loss in a back-to-back, the Bulls scored 102 points at Indiana, but allowed the Pacers to score 97 in the final three quarters.

"We haven't been good in the second game of back-to-back yet," said Bulls coach Scott Skiles. "So we better do something about that quickly. We seem to just wear out and we need to address that."

A common theory on the Bulls' back-to-back failures is that they're a team that needs to play at a high level of intensity to win games. When the schedule gets busy, they don't have enough energy to maintain the pace.

"I think it's something we've been able to do in the past and we've just got to go back to doing those type of things," guard Ben Gordon said. "That's what made us a good team being able to play teams tough in back-to-back games and still maintain our high energy."

The Bulls had a long practice Sunday, then Skiles tried to balance that by spending only an hour on the court Monday. Instead of the usual morning shootaround at the Berto Center today, the Bulls will hold a 4:30 walkthrough at the United Center.

"You try to balance getting some practice in and at the same time, not wearing guys out," Skiles said. "You just hope that's the case when you get in the game, you hope you know guys well enough and trust that they'll be ready."

Injury update: Tyrus Thomas left Sunday's practice early with a sore hip, but he was back in action Monday. ... Lakers star Kobe Bryant strained his left groin against Golden State on Friday, but he came back to score 32 points in Sunday's win over Clippers. ... Lakers power forward Kwame Brown hasn't played since Ben Wallace took a charge and fell backward into Brown's left knee and ankle in the Nov. 18 game.

Holiday cheer: Luol Deng passed out 500 gifts to children during the Chicago Housing Authority holiday party at the South Shore Cultural Center on Monday evening. ... Chris Duhon, Tyrus Thomas and Andres Nocioni passed out gifts at a DCFS holiday party Sunday at the Bulls-Sox Training Academy in Lisle. Duhon made a contribution to help fund the event.