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Bulls suffer 93-89 loss to Rockets, search for winning formula



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Updated: December 24, 2012 7:09AM

HOUSTON — It’ll be the biggest acquisition of the season, and forward Carlos Boozer said Wednesday that he couldn’t wait for the Bulls to make it official.

“No question about that,’’ Boozer said with a laugh. “You think any other team can add a Derrick Rose to the lineup?’’

Probably not. Then again, Rose is still about three months away from being battle-tested, and the NBA schedule waits for no one. The Bulls have been reminded of that on this road trip, escaping Phoenix in overtime before bad losses against the Clippers and Trail Blazers before a 93-89 loss to Houston Wednesday night.

And an even bigger concern is they still seem to be searching for an identity other than, “The team that’s waiting for Derrick Rose to come back.’’

“We’re 10 games in,’’ Boozer said before Wednesday’s game. “With this particular group, we’re still in the infancy state of the progression, still trying to find out what the best formula is. That’s why you see the different lineups out there.

‘‘But [coach Tom Thibodeau] will find it, and we’ll find it. We’ll continue to build as each game comes up. I think 20 games from now, we’ll be set.

“Right now, we’re sticking different guys in there, especially with that second group, to see who can play well together and who [can’t]. Everyone has to remember, we’re still short-handed. We’re still missing Derrick, so there’s going to be some mixing and matching, trying to figure out what works. But, for the most part, it’s the Chicago Bulls. It’s not what it says on the back of the jersey; it’s the front that matters.’’

Boozer hasn’t experienced much losing in the regular season since he arrived as a free agent before the 2010-11 season. The Bulls have earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs in back-to-back years.

So this mediocre start isn’t sitting well.

“We hate losing; we love winning,’’ Boozer said. “That’s the first thing. The second thing that comes to mind is we’re a determined group.

‘‘The young guys, Marquis [Teague] won a national championship last year at Kentucky, so he wants to win, and the older guys have been around a long time and want to win. We’re just very determined.

“All that stuff doesn’t guarantee you wins. You still have to put the work in, but our mentality is we had a great practice [Tuesday]. We all went after it, very enthusiastic. We’re competitive; we’re going to win.’’

Not if they continue to be erratic on defense and careless with the ball.

Thibodeau emphasized that again.

“The big thing that’s hurt us is turning the ball over, particularly on the road,’’ Thibodeau said. “You do that, then you’re giving easy baskets up. We want teams to have to go against our set defense.’’

Boozer just wants his team to realize that the losing has to stop.

“When you’re on a losing streak, though, it does make you a little more aware,’’ Boozer said. “It heightens that sense of urgency. That goes up tenfold because you want that next win. These are all challenges, but we’ll step up to the plate.’’

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