Bulls center Joakim Noah and forward Taj Gibson double team Clippers center Ronny Turiaf as he shoots in the second quarter of the Chicago Bulls-L.A. Clippers NBA game Tuesday December 11, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 12, 2012 10:36AM
This was the date circled on the calendar.
And not just Nate Robinson’s.
The Bulls left Los Angeles after their loss Nov. 17 to the Clippers half-humbled, half-angry.
“We see them in 23 days, and we’ll be ready,’’ Robinson said back then.
“A loss like that, it marinates. It sits there. They just really took us out of what we wanted to run. They punked us up and down the court like we just met up at a local park. We hooped, and they were like, ‘OK, you’re off; who’s next?’ It hurt. Good thing about the NBA is we’ll see them again.’’
Taj Gibson had similar bad feelings: “We’ll see them again. Just looking forward to that.’’
Time to buy a 2013 calendar to circle dates because there’s no revenge left for 2012.
Thanks to 22 points from Blake Griffin — he seemed to be having a personal dunk contest — the Clippers beat the Bulls 94-89 Tuesday at the United Center to sweep the season series.
It was far from the earlier 21-point laugher, but, again, the Clippers (15-6) had too much star power for the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.
“It was another learning step, but we’ve got to do better,’’ Gibson said after the latest loss. “We’re capable of winning every game just with our defense alone, but we’ve got to get back to the basics of locking teams down in the fourth quarter.’’
They might want to add locking teams down late in the second quarter. With the game tied 35-35 in the first half and just over five minutes left, the Clippers took advantage of every Bulls turnover with four consecutive highlight-reel dunks.
At the half, the Clippers had a seven-point lead.
“The end of the second quarter changed the game,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We started dancing with the ball. When you do that, it just leads to turnovers, so we shot ourselves in the foot there. You can’t do that against a good team.’’
After cutting the Clippers’ lead to two with 48 seconds left on Marco Belinelli’s three-pointer, Chris Paul beat Kirk Hinrich off the dribble and made a floater with 27 seconds left to put the Bulls (11-9) in a bad place.
After Joakim Noah’s layup, the Bulls were forced to foul, and Paul made both free throws to give the Clippers a four-point lead.
Luol Deng, who was only 3-for-14 from the field, missed a short jumper with 11 seconds left.
The Clippers gained possession after a jump ball and iced the game.
“We just seem to have mental lapses,’’ Gibson said of the late-game breakdown. “We need to adjust and get better. That’s a playoff-bound team, but we have to play hard-nosed and just get over this loss.’’