For four of the five years Tom Thibodeau was the head coach of the Bulls, they were a top five defensive team in the NBA. Last year, they took a step back. This season, their first under Fred Hoiberg, the focus has shifted decidedly to offense, which has been more dynamic so far. But it has also led to some troubling defensive efforts, including Tuesday night’s loss to the Hornets, where they gave up 130 points. Jimmy Butler, for one, isn’t happy about it.
“We ain’t been playing no defense,” a frustrated Butler said after the game. “Other teams have just been missing shots to tell you the truth, to be honest. [Shoot] we score enough points, that’s not the problem. But when you don’t stop nobody, they put up 130 or whatever they did, we got to nip that in the bud now because that’s not winning basketball. It will never be winning basketball here and it never has been winning basketball here. We’ve always prided ourself on playing hard and not being pretty. Tonight, we were pretty, we were soft. Got our asses whipped.”
There are going to be growing pains when a new coach is introducing his system, and it’s going to lead to games like this. Hoiberg’s main focus is playing with pace, and a byproduct of that is going to be giving up more points. But the Bulls’ effort on Tuesday night was nonexistent. It’s not going to be what it was under Thibodeau, but it at least has to be better than that.