Double helping of Bulls' bests: Circus trip memories and win streaks

Thursday, 23 November 2017, 08:45:59 AM. Two lists: The first looks at the top-four memories from the annual 'circus trip' caused by Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus taking over the United Center. The second lists the Bulls’ top-three winning streaks.

It’s Thanksgiving week, so you know the drill: You’re not hungry but you go for that second helping anyway. In that spirit, we offer two -related lists this week.

In a nod to the dearly, departed “Circus trip,” the first looks at the top-four memories from the annual sojourn caused by Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus taking over the United Center.

The second lists the Bulls’ top-three winning streaks in franchise history as a shoutout to the Celtics, who have ripped off 16 straight after opening 0-2.

Circus trip memories

Nov. 24, 2004: Bulls 101, Jazz 99

The Bulls snapped a 37-game losing streak on the annual trip and avoided an 0-10 start, which would’ve been the worst in franchise history. The victory, led by ’s 22 points and 21 from Eddy Curry, catapulted the -led “Baby Bulls” that also featured rookies Luol Deng, Chris Duhon and to a 47-26 finish and the first playoff berth since the dynasty ended.

“They deserve this,” Skiles said that night of the losing streak ending.

Nov. 22, 2013: 98, Bulls 95

The image of a solemn leaving the arena on crutches still resonates. After controversially sitting out the entire 2012-13 season following left ACL surgery, Rose’s comeback lasted just 10 games as he suffered a torn right meniscus on a seemingly benign backcut. The injury overshadowed the Bulls blowing a 21-point lead.

“I know how much work he has put into his rehab and the type of person and player he is,” coach said that night. “So I feel for him.”

Nov. 24, 2010: Bulls 123, Suns 115 (2 OT)

In a foreshadowing of the resolve that defined an eventual trip to the Eastern Conference finals, the Bulls rallied from 23 points down to prevail in the 3-hour, 2-minute marathon behind Rose’s 35 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The victory helped secure a rare winning record on the 4-3 trip.

“I love the team this year,” Deng said that night. “We have great teammates and coaches. All we’re thinking about is winning, playing together. I really believe we have something special in here.”

Nov. 27, 2001: 100, Bulls 68

Less than a month later, Tim Floyd resigned under pressure on Christmas Eve. But Charles Oakley offered presents for beat writers everywhere with one of the most colorful postgame metaphors ever following the loss, which ended an 0-7 trip and featured a seven-point third quarter.

“This isn’t like a flat tire you can fix and keep on riding,” Oakley said that night. “This is a blowout. We ain’t got no spare. And nothing’s open for 100 miles. So we have to do some walking.”

Franchise win streaks

18. Dec. 29, 1995 to Feb. 2, 1996

Undefeated months aren’t the norm in professional sports, even in the NFL. But the Bulls ran through January 1996 during this franchise-best streak, part of the record-setting 72-10 mark that the Warriors eclipsed in 2015-16. The Nuggets snapped the streak with a 105-99 home victory on Feb. 4, 1996, which also ended the Bulls’ franchise-record streak of nine straight road victories. Michael Jordan averaged 31.2 points during the run. "It was one of those times you just sit back and enjoy the show he was putting on," told the Tribune’s Sam Smith during the streak.

14. Nov. 6, 1991 to Dec. 6, 1991

Tying these two lists together, this streak featured a 6-0 Circus trip that didn’t come easy. The Bulls need overtime to win at Seattle and double overtime to prevail at Portland. Jordan posted a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the final victory, a 114-96 laugher over Charlotte at the old Chicago Stadium. "Once you put a team in a hole, you have to keep them in a hole," Jordan told the Tribune’s Melissa Isaacson that night. By season’s end, the Bulls did that, winning their second straight title.

The Bulls have posted four 13-game win streaks to tie for the third-longest in franchise history. Unsurprisingly, all came during the dynasty.

kcjohnson@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kcjhoop

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