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5 takeaways from a dismal Chicago Bulls loss, including another slow start — and a flurry of Brooklyn Nets 3-pointers

NEW YORK — A weariness follows the Chicago Bulls into the final minutes of most games.

Friday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets — a dismal 125-108 decision that featured 25 made 3-pointers by the home team — was just the latest installment in a seasonlong trend.

The Bulls are struggling to hold leads. And to defend the 3-point line. And to string together consecutive strong performances. And with only eight games left in the regular season, this 35-39 team could be at risk of losing the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference — and in the process losing home-court advantage for the first game in the play-in tournament.

Here are five takeaways from the loss.

1. Late wake-up call after slow start

The Bulls suffered another slow start, sinking into a 12-point deficit in the opening quarter before the offense appeared to come alive.

They ultimately stormed back with a 20-7 run to claim a five-point lead heading into the locker room. But that early stagnancy posed a familiar issue for an offense that often requires a full quarter to get into rhythm.

“We really need everybody offensively to have — not to say huge games, but consistent games,” coach Billy Donovan said. “Those are some of the things we’re trying to fight for. I wish we could control the ball going into the basket. That’s the one thing you can’t control. I do like the shots that we’re generating, the things that we’re trying to do on offense and the way they’re trying to play. But there’s just times when we do have droughts.”

2. Nets find their long-range shot

Despite closing the first half with the lead, the Bulls were quickly overwhelmed by a scorching second half by the Nets from 3-point range.

They shot 18-for-24 from behind the arc in the second half, tripling the Bulls’ production. The Nets finished with 25 3-pointers on 56.8% shooting while the Bulls went 9-for-30 (30%) from 3. It was a familiar scene for the Bulls, who gave up 25 3-pointers in their last game at the Barclays Center.

“Second half, they made shots, they made tough ones, they made contested ones, they made ones off the dribble,” guard Coby White said. “It’s hard to beat a team if they’re making 25 3s. They made shots in the second half and some was due to us having our lapses, but I think a lot of it was just that they got hot.”

3. Coby White muddles through another slow shooting night

The Bulls always thrive when White has a strong shooting night. But those are fewer and further between since a hip injury sidelined the guard for three games, heightening an exhaustion that has plagued him throughout a high-volume season of averaging close to 37 minutes per game.

Friday’s loss highlighted the offense’s struggles when White’s shots aren’t falling. White went 3-for-9 from behind the arc and 6-for-16 overall. He finished with a respectable 18 points and bolstered the offense with nine assists. But without a breakout shooting performance from White, the Bulls simply could not keep pace with the Nets.

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 31 points and added eight rebounds.

4. Javonte Green continues to make his case

A small silver lining for the Bulls in the last week has been the consistent play of forward Javonte Green, who signed a 10-day contract in his return to the NBA from a serious knee injury. Green logged seven points, one rebound and two steals in 16 minutes off the bench for the Bulls.

Before the game, coach Billy Donovan said he had not spoken with the front office about the possibility of re-signing Green, whose contract will expire Tuesday. Green has two more games — a road matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday and at home Monday against the Atlanta Hawks — to continue making his case for a longer stay with the Bulls or joining another team.

5. Bulls play through illness, injury

As late-season exhaustion sets in, Ayo Dosunmu and Nikola Vučević are playing through an unspecified illness that has crept through the team and traveling staff. Donovan said he is attempting to lightly limit both players’ minutes to accommodate their physical needs. Dosunmu played 32 minutes and Vučević 30 minutes Friday.

Alex Caruso also left the game briefly after a hard collision in the first half, checking on an apparent ankle injury in the locker room. He ultimately returned to the game and played 33 minutes, logging six points, five assists, three rebounds and one block.