PHOENIX – No one criticizes Jimmy Butler more than Jimmy Butler.
So while the emerging star entered this West Coast trip averaging a team-leading 19.2 points per game, he wasn’t real pleased with the shooting percentage (45 percent) – more specifically, the long-range three-point shooting.
Butler was just 1-for-14 from three-point range over his previous four games, and while he was still shooting 37 percent on the season through 10 games, not an acceptable outcome in Butler’s world.
“I think I can do better,’’ Butler said. “I haven’t been shooting it from three the last few games like I started off. It’s all about taking shots and making them with confidence.’’
Even more disappointing for Butler is the free throw line, where the 6-foot-7 two-guard was 55-for-71 (.775) after shooting 83 percent from the free throw line last season.
“The free throw line is really [ticking] me off,’’ Butler said. “Yeah, everything feels good. I can’t blame it on this, but my wrist still hurts a little bit. But I still gotta take the shot and knock it down. I’ll get back to it, I promise you.’’
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg admitted that he was surprised to see Kevin McHale fired after just 11 games. Hoiberg worked with McHale back in their Minnesota days, and considered him an elite NBA coach.
“You know what, in coming off a Western Conference finals run, it’s tough,’’ Hoiberg said. “Kevin McHale is as good as I’ve played for.
“He’s a relationship guy who is so good at getting the guys to believe. So is it surprising? Sure it is, 10 or 11 games into the season.’’
Rookie Bobby Portis played just 20 minutes through the first 10 games, making two appearances, but Hoiberg said there are no plans to send the first-round pick to the D-League anytime soon.
“He’s getting a lot of really good reps in practice,’’ Hoiberg said. “He gets our guys playing at a higher level because of the intensity he brings to the practice floor. But yeah, nothing compares to game action. We’ll evaluate it and see what we think when we get back.’’