Back in mid-January, following yet another desultory home loss to the Suns, Tom Thibodeau crinkled up his face and offered a quote for the ages about readiness to play.

"If they say we're playing at midnight on the roof, you should be saying let's get the ladders," he said.

As the Bulls trudged off the United Center floor for possibly the last time this season late Monday, 88-65 losers to the Heat, they could've added lifeline to ladders on their checklist of things to pack for Miami.

A season filled with pluck and grit gave way to a night of record-setting offensive ineptitude, with a three-game winning streak against the defending NBA champions the only possible remedy. The Bulls never have won a playoff series in which they trailed 3-1.

They also never had scored so few points or shot so poorly in franchise playoff history. Their 25.7 percent shooting shattered the previous lowlight of 31.1 percent in the Game 7 Eastern Conference finals loss at Detroit on June 3, 1990. Their previous low of 69 points also came on the road against the Pistons in a second-round series on May 5, 2007.

The Bulls also set a new low for playoff points in a quarter by scoring nine in the third.

Memo to Bulls: Wednesday's Game 5 tips at 6 p.m. Central.

"We have a lot left in the tank," Joakim Noah said.

After a season of so much adversity and injury, players unanimously rejected the fatigue angle, even if their performance at both ends suggested otherwise.