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Bulls Struggle With Lots Of Starters, Rotation Players Out; Heavy Lifting Falls On DeRozan, Vucevic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Bulls started the second half of the season Monday by dropping their fourth straight game – but they were missing multiple starters and rotation players.

Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, and Derrick Jones Jr. were all out.

That has meant heavy lifting by DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic as they try to hold down the fort while the rest of the Bulls get healthy.

Team defense has dropped to 19th in the league as they have been losing by an average of 20 points a game during the losing streak.

In the middle of seven games in an 11-day stretch, Coach Billy Donovan has to be wary of overplaying his stars.

"With DeMar and Vuc, I don't want to put them in a situation where – with the number of games that we're being played – where their minutes are in the high 30s. You know, I think you've got to balance them," Donovan said. "Plus, I think too, is I think both those guys are very, very efficient players. And I think if I asked them to play 30 or 35 minutes, they would do it. They'd have no problem with it. So I don't want to act like it has anything to do with them. But I also want to help them be efficient, you know, and there's a lot on those two guys' place – especially from offensive standpoint, you know, the production of putting the ball in the basket."

The good news is Caruso could be back as early as Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The bad news is the Cavs have won five in a row – the longest active winning streak in the league.

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