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Home streak ends as 76ers bring Bulls back to reality

Derrick Rose tries shoot as he splits 76ers’ defense EltBrSpencer Hawes.  |  keith hale~sun-times

Derrick Rose tries to shoot as he splits the 76ers’ defense of Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes. | keith hale~sun-times

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Updated: July 2, 2011 12:20AM

The Bulls keep telling us it’s a fine line between success and failure, which is why they’re sticking to their mantras: One game at a time. One step at a time. No looking ahead.

We really need to believe them.

Looking like Loss Bulls — or should we say Lost Bulls? — rather than Los Bulls on Latin Night, they were corralled by Philadelphia 97-85 on Monday.

The Bulls’ 27-13 first-quarter deficit rankled Derrick Rose, who was so frazzled by his 10 turnovers his 31 points meant nothing.

“We came out slow. This one’s on me,’’ Rose said. “Me missing shots I normally hit, turning over the ball. I was just careless. Some of them was me driving, kicking the ball off my [deleted] foot.’’

Joakim Noah agreed, saying the Bulls neglected what has put them where they are.

“It’s a wake-up call,’’ Noah said. “We don’t have anything figured out. People are telling us, ‘It’s OK, you guys are going to win this game. It’s easy.’ Nothing’s easy in this league. We didn’t start the game with the right mind-set and it bit us on the butt tonight.

“You have to come out with the right edge. When you start thinking you have it all figured out, that’s when you lose.’’

The defeat, which ended the Bulls’ 14-game home winning streak, was their first loss at the United Center since an 83-82 setback against ­Charlotte on Jan. 18.

“The past couple of games, in the first half we have not played defense,’’ said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who had warned his team it was practicing sloppy, and that would lead to playing sloppy. “This game was lost early — 27-13 in the first quarter. You can’t win like that.’’

It was only their second loss in 14 games overall. But they’ve set the bar so high that any defeat seems surprising.

“We’re not going to make a big deal out of it,’’ Carlos Boozer said. “I know you [media] guys probably want to, but we’re not going to do that. We just have to get back to what we do. We’ll learn from this. And we’ll be better at Minnesota [on Wednesday].’’

And yet, the listlessness, combined with the clumsiness, in the first half of this defeat was disturbing.

“[Thibodeau] was saying he saw it in practice, that we weren’t together. He was right,’’ Rose said. “You come out thinking everything’s going to be easy, but everybody’s fighting for a spot.’’

The Bulls lost no ground to Boston, which was beaten 107-100 at Indiana. It was the Celtics’ sixth loss in 11 games.

The Bulls now have a two-game lead on Boston as well as the idle ­Miami Heat.

“This is a big win for us,’’ coach Doug Collins said after the 76ers ­solidified their hold on the No. 6 seed. “I can’t even tell you. The first time in this building, we lost by 45. And we’d lost two in a row. We’re scratching and clawing to get into the playoffs. We’re inching up.’’

Down 27-13 after their sleepy first quarter and 50-27 four minutes ­before halftime, the Bulls trailed 53-37 at halftime.

The Bulls battled back to within four twice, the last time at 74-70 with 8:36 to play.

They would get no closer.

“We fought back,’’ Boozer said. “But we used a lot of our energy ­trying to fight back. We can’t get down by that much. We have to have a better first quarter. To me, that’s where the game was lost.’’

While Thibodeau agreed with that, he indicated that it was lost even earlier than that.

“If you’re not putting a lot into practice, you’re not going to have an edge in the game,’’ the coach said. “If you don’t have an edge in the game, you’re putting yourself in a bad position.’’

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