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Bulls tumble to 10-10 at UC after perplexing loss to Suns

Joakim Noah wins this rebound battle against Jermaine O’Neal (20) Saturday. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

Joakim Noah wins this rebound battle against Jermaine O’Neal (20) on Saturday. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 14, 2013 6:39AM



The search for 48 minutes of complete basketball continues for coach Tom Thibodeau.

Now, 48 minutes of a complete meltdown? Well, his team had that down pat on Saturday night.

Acting very Knicks-like, the Bulls collected four technical fouls, looking more like a team that needed some leather-couch time with Dr. Phil rather than another two-hour grind-it-out practice with Dr. Thibs — and the Phoenix Suns loved every minute of it.

In collecting the 97-81 victory at the United Center, the Suns ended a five-game losing streak, while improving their road record to 3-17. It also ended a 12-game road losing streak for a team that had no business going toe-to-toe with the Bulls.

But then again, neither did Charlotte less than two weeks ago, as home-court advantage is becoming a myth for the Bulls, evident by the 10-10 home record.

The Bulls lost 13 home games combined the previous two seasons.

Yeah, there’s a problem.

“It’s not any given night, that’s the problem,’’ center Joakim Noah explained. “We’re 10-10 at home, that’s not very good. It’s very average. There’s obviously a problem if we’re going on the road and beating some of the best teams, and then coming home and facing lower-echelon teams and not even competing. We have to fix it and it’s definitely something we can solve.’’

Thibodeau was already on the job, although details of how he plans to repair it were sketchy.

“We have to do better with that, I have to do better with that,’’ Thibodeau said of the home-court problems. “I have to take a hard look at everything. I don’t think it’s a starting lineup, substitutions … I don’t think that’s it. It’s a team-wide thing.’’

The head-scratcher was that this is the same team that beat the Knicks on the road twice, and took down the Heat last week. So to let the Suns stumble in, only to see Luis Scola drop 22 and Michael Beasley come off the bench and score 20, that just hasn’t happened very often under Thibodeau.

“There’s no such thing as a non-marquis team in the NBA in my eyes,’’ Thibodeau said.

“They tell you you’re playing midnight on the roof,’’ the coach said, “you have to have guys that say, ‘Let’s get the ladders.’ ’’

Not guys that turn to the officials to complain about calls that didn’t go their way.

In collecting four more tenchicals, the Bulls have 25 on the season. Noah, who coincidentally leads the way with seven, insisted that it’s time to turn the page on all of that.

“Because it’s just too negative,’’ Noah said. “We have to support one another when things aren’t going well. When things aren’t going our way it’s the end of the world. You have to move on to the next play.

“Yeah, no question, we lost our composure [Saturday night]. It’s not just one person, it’s the entire team. We have to do a better job of that, no question.’’



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