Bulls still seeking for answers on offense

HOUSTON -- Joakim Noah summed up the state of the Chicago Bulls in one simple, revealing answer late Wednesday night after the Houston Rockets cruised by Noah & Co.

When asked what the Bulls' biggest issue is right now, the normally jovial center gave a blunt assessment of how far his team has fallen in recent weeks.

"I don't know," he said.

Noah's candor seems fitting for a team that has all kinds of different issues these days:

First and foremost, the Bulls continue having problems scoring. Since even before Derrick Rose went down, the Bulls' offense has looked lifeless on most nights. They don't have the talent to compete against upper-echelon teams, as was the case against the Rockets in Chicago's 15-point defeat. The problem for the Bulls is that their usual stout defense broke down in this one, as well. They were outscored 66-40 in the paint.

"We didn't take anything away," said a frustrated Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "So they hurt us in the paint, they hurt us with the 3, they shot 53 percent so ... we got to straighten it out."

But what is going to get straightened out that much?

Kirk Hinrich, who missed his third straight game because of back stiffness, will make the Bulls a little better. But he doesn't have the ability to consistently create his own shot.

The problem for the Bulls is that they can see the writing on the wall. They are still playing hard, they just don't have the talent that they are used to having. No longer is energy and effort enough to get by on most nights.

"We're losing, so, mentally it's tough," Noah said. "When you lose, it's not fun. We just got to keep battling. Keep battling. The games keep coming, so nobody feels sorry for us and you can't feel sorry for yourself. We just got to play harder."

The Bulls can play a little harder, but the losing has started to take a toll on this team. They are starting to get even more frustrated by the fact they can't generate what they want offensively.

"We just got to get that taste of winning and that sense of going forward and going towards achieving something," said Bulls forward Taj Gibson. "In previous years and even in the beginning of the season, we had that spunk about us. We never panicked; we knew what it took to win games.

"Right now, I feel like we're still trying to search and trying to figure out our whole different concept of this whole different team that we have right now, as far as getting wins. We've been digging and we've been grinding and we've been right there a couple times. It's real deflating, but we just got to keep pushing."

The Bulls' attitude remains intact. They are still listening to Thibodeau and trying as best they can to stay in games. But for a team that has been so consistent and so successful over the past three seasons, the reality of each loss is taking a major toll on this proud group.

"This is obviously one of the toughest stretches that we've had," said Bulls forward Carlos Boozer. "We'll fight through it, man. Keep working hard. Hopefully, we'll start getting some wins here soon. We need it. We need wins bad."

The Bulls’ next opportunity for a victory comes Thursday night in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.