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Bulls blistered by Jamal Crawford in loss to Clippers

Taj Gibsfinds rough going traffic as Ronny Turiaf (right) Lamar Odom close in. | Jae C. Hong~AP

Taj Gibson finds rough going in traffic as Ronny Turiaf (right) and Lamar Odom close in. | Jae C. Hong~AP

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Updated: December 19, 2012 4:01PM



LOS ANGELES — Where did it go wrong?

Pick a spot. Letting “Lob City’’ get started four minutes into the game, when Chris Paul connected on an alley-oop to Blake Griffin. Allowing Jamal Crawford to score 17 points in the second quarter alone. Getting outscored 17-4 in fast-break points by the half.

Where did it go right?

Well, the Bulls looked good in pregame layup lines.

In one of the worst games of the young season for the Bulls (5-4), the Los Angeles Clippers dominated from the second quarter on, handing the visitors a 101-80 defeat in the sold-out Staples Center on Saturday night.

“We got outscrapped. We got outcompeted. That’s disappointing,’’ Bulls center Joakim Noah said. “We took a couple steps back. We know we’re capable of playing a lot better basketball.’’

Maybe they are, but not when they seemed to disregard everything they were warned about by coach Tom Thibodeau leading up to the game against the 7-2 Clippers.

Atop that list of don’ts was making sure to limit turnovers. Having 12 by the half and 16 in the game was not in the game plan.

“We turned the ball over too much, and you can’t turn the ball over against a team like this,’’ Noah said. “They’re too athletic, that’s their strength. They’re probably the best at getting out in the break in the NBA, so the turnovers hurt us.’’

When the turnovers didn’t, Crawford did. The Bulls trailed by three after the first quarter, and then it was time for Crawford, the top sixth man in the league, to bounce off the bench.

The explosive shooting guard, who spent his first four seasons with the Bulls, went 5-for-7 from the field, including two three-pointers, as the Clippers outscored the Bulls 35-25. Crawford was responsible for 17 of those points.

“The thing is, he’s a tough cover and you got to give him credit, but you can’t allow a guy to play to his strengths,’’ Thibodeau said. “If he’s beating you, it’s got to be doing something he doesn’t really want to do. We let him get to what he wanted. We played him with a cushion, which you can’t do. Then once he gets going, he has a lot of confidence. Now it’s harder to slow him down, so we didn’t play him well.’’

Carlos Boozer, who led the Bulls with 22 points and 12 rebounds, was equally impressed with Crawford.

“He’s a tough cover,’’ Boozer said. “He’s got a lot of handles, got a good package on him. We didn’t do a good enough job of shutting him down, didn’t do a good enough job helping.’’

Thibodeau sat his starters for the final quarter, hoping to get some sort of spark from his bench, but it was obvious by then that a bad night wasn’t about to get any better. The Bulls are 1-1 on the “Circus Trip’’ and have little time to recover with a game in Portland on Sunday night.

“It’s disappointing, but we got to bounce back,’’ Noah said. “We don’t have time to mope or anything like that. We got to come ready to go [against the Trail Blazers].’’



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