Wizards give Bulls 'wake-up call'

CHICAGO -- For a team that had been living a "Groundhog Day" type of existence for the past couple of months, the fact that the alarm struck midnight again and the Chicago Bulls suffered an ugly loss to the Washington Wizards shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Sure, the Bulls came into the game having won five in a row, but Tom Thibodeau's team pasted together that streak by playing solid defense and hitting timely shots -- two things that were in short supply on Monday night.

"Games like this, it's kind of like a wake-up call," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "It humbles you. Because right when you're feeling good about yourself and you're feeling invincible, a team comes in and smacks you and wakes you up to reality."

The Bulls played like a team that was confident it would be able to beat the Wizards when they stepped on the floor. Problem was, no matter how many times Washington allowed Chicago to crawl back into the game, the Bulls could never take full advantage of those chances. The energy wasn’t at a level that set the Bulls apart over the past two weeks.

"I did not think we had an edge tonight," Thibodeau said. "On that part I have to make sure they understand what we need to win. We have to come out with a very high intensity level for us to win. That's the first part of it."

The second part is the defense. And the third part is the scoring.

The Bulls' offense continues to be this team's Achilles’ heel. Their spacing on the floor isn't good, and they are still having problems finding consistency.

The telling part in the Bulls' locker room is that they didn't seem too concerned about the performance, convinced that things would turn around again in short order.

"We didn't play our best game tonight," Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer said. "We all know that to a man we can look in the mirror and know we can play a hell of a lot better, so that's a sign of encouragement .

"We have [an edge]. We just didn't have it in enough stretches tonight."

Bulls center Joakim Noah agreed. He is confident the Bulls will get back on track, especially with a date against the hapless Orlando Magic on tap Wednesday night.

The problem for the Bulls is the same as it's been most of the season without Derrick Rose: In order to win games, even against mediocre teams, the Bulls must play at a high level throughout.

When they take breaks, as they did against the Wizards, losses will start to pile up again.

"The energy was there," Noah said. "I think we played with energy. We just didn't play well. Thibs said we didn't play with enough of an edge. We gave up a lot of points. I think they shot the ball well.

"Overall, I think our intensity was pretty good. I think that we just didn't hit shots that we usually make. We're going to watch the film and I think we're definitely capable of playing a lot better. Overall, I think it's OK, we can live with it tonight."