This time, the Bulls were hurting for reasons other than injury.

Welcoming back critical rotation pieces in Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson, the Bulls' defense was battered and bruised as the Trail Blazers cruised to a 99-89 victory that wasn't that close Thursday night at the United Center.

The loss left the Bulls again searching for answers with just 15 games remaining after dropping into a sixth-place tie with the Celtics, just two games ahead of the eighth-place Bucks. About the only thing saving the Bulls — who are 8-14 since moving to a season-best 11 games above .500 at the end of January — is the fact the ninth-place teams are 10 games back.

"We got smacked," said Joakim Noah, who scored a team-high 18 points. "It's really disappointing. We're not playing great right now. It's the final stretch and we're not getting it done. We have to find a way."

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points and Rookie of the Year favorite Damian Lillard added 24 as the Trail Blazers opened the second quarter with a 14-0 run and never were challenged seriously thereafter. They led by as many as 28 and watched that lead mostly dissipate in garbage time.

Searching for energy, coach Tom Thibodeau, as resigned as he ever has been after a loss, settled on the unconventional lineup of Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed and Gibson. He rode them most of the fourth quarter. Robinson's spectacular second dunk of the season, in which he first split a double-team with a between-the-legs dribble, sparked a 16-4 run that finally woke the crowd.

But the Trail Blazers, who shot 10 of 21 from 3-point range, kept coming up with big plays. J.J. Hickson grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. Wes Matthews added 11 points with three 3-pointers.