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Don't blame Bulls coaches if they begin to approach Christmas Eve with all the fearful trepidation of Ebenezer Scrooge. The Bulls sacked coach Scott Skiles on Monday, six years to the day after Tim Floyd was fired. Skiles was matter-of-fact about it and went surprisingly tamely for someone with such renowned intensity. But then again a lack of intensity was what marked the Bulls' play this season as they got off to another slow start and, unlike the previous three years, failed to turn it around in December. Many blamed distractions, from general manager John Paxson being unable to sign Luol Deng and Ben Gordon to contract extensions before the season to the rigamarole surrounding an unconsummated blockbuster deal for Kobe Bryant. Paxson himself said he thought the team had too many personal agendas running at cross-purposes. On the court, the team's shooting suffered as opposing defenses decided to play them more honestly and not bite on the regular scheme to drive, draw the double-team, and kick it outside that had worked so well the last two years. Assistant coach Jim Boylan is expected to be promoted after Pete Myers runs the club tonight in San Antonio, but he too faces the prospects of a hooded ghost pointing at the headstone of a dead season. Here's hoping he wakes up in bed some time in the next week with the entire team pledging to atone for the past with a renewed sense of purpose.