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Bulls fall to Trail Blazers 102-94; lose 2nd consecutive game on road

Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard drives past Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich who had six points 2-for-6 shooting. | DRyan~AP

Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard drives past Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, who had six points on 2-for-6 shooting. | Don Ryan~AP

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Updated: December 20, 2012 6:33AM

PORTLAND, Ore. — Several Bulls already had Dec. 11 circled on the calendar. That’s the next time they’ll face the Clippers, who ran them out of the gym Saturday night.

Get the highlighter out again. March 21 just might have been marked up as well because of an unnecessary dunk by rookie guard Damian Lillard at the end of the Trail Blazers’ 102-94 victory Sunday.

But it’s a four-month wait until the Blazers travel to Chicago, and the way the Bulls are playing lately, that calendar is filling up a little too quickly with wait-until-next-time games.

“I told him, ‘You can’t do that; you got to be smart,’ ’’ Bulls forward Taj Gibson said when asked about confronting Lillard after the game at halfcourt.

Lillard made it sound like it was just a rookie being a rookie 10 games into the season.

“When I caught the ball, I didn’t know what to do, honestly,’’ Lillard said. “I was like, man, I’m here by myself. I didn’t mean no disrespect to them, but now I know to just dribble the ball out.’’

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has bigger problems to deal with. There was more fight against the Blazers (5-5) than against the Clippers, but the game still came down to the three areas Thibodeau has been stressing since the start of the season: defense, rebounding and turnovers.

The Bulls (5-5) again were erratic in all three categories.

“All three are the problem right now,’’ Thibodeau said.

“Those three things put you in position to win.’’

Gibson tied the game with 10:50 left with a free throw, but just over two minutes later, Portland ran its lead back up to seven. It was a hole the Bulls couldn’t climb out of.

Then again, maybe they were still stung by what the Clippers did to them. It sure sounded that way.

“We see [the Clippers] in 23 days, and we’ll be ready,’’ guard Nate Robinson said. “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 that we’ll see them again.’’

For the second consecutive night, a team with younger legs and better athletes took advantage of the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. Robinson wasn’t buying the not-athletic-enough theory, however.

“It’s not like teams are going undefeated these days, no matter how athletic they are or not,’’ Robinson said.

“You can say that every team is going to be more athletic than the Spurs, and they kick people’s butts.’’

The Bulls don’t play the Spurs until February. No need to circle that one. Not yet, at least.

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