There was no talk of having to be “coached harder.’’
No concerns with what “Coach Reggie’’ thought about the offense.
No off-the-court drama.
Not an easy feat for this Bulls team, especially when it comes to playing New York.
There was only a basketball game on Friday night, and a very good one as far as the Bulls were concerned, as they beat the Knicks, 108-81, to win four out of their last five, improving to 19-12.
More importantly, did so drama free.
“I don’t know,’’ first-year coach Fred Hoiberg said, when asked if he could have envisioned all the off-the-court issues surrounding the Bulls when he took the job. “I mean, I don’t really look at it that way. If there’s an issue, you do everything you can to try to solve it. And we have had a couple issues early in the season and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of hitting it on the head and trying to correct it. And we’re in a pretty good spot right now.
“We’ve got to get healthy, but as far as everything going on with our team, things are falling into place and we just need to continue to take steps to become a better basketball team.’’
Steps were further taken against New York (15-19).
The last time the two teams squared off was back on Dec. 19, with the Knicks man-handling the Bulls 107-91.
It was after that game that Jimmy Butler insisted that the laid-back Hoiberg needed to “coach harder’’ and hold players accountable.
That was just a long list of bumps in the road for Hoiberg this season, including a less-than-happy Joakim Noah because of his benching, several veteran players upset with Butler’s hostile takeover of the leadership role, and Derrick Rose’s brother/manager, Reggie, deciding to start coaching from the sidelines, yelling instructions to younger brother the last few home games.
Then if that wasn’t enough, following the Wednesday win over Indiana, Butler had a cryptic interview session with the media where he indicated he has a lot of things going on off the court that he was dealing with.
“As far as what’s going on off the court, it’s a new position for Jimmy with everything he’s got going,’’ Hoiberg said. “But again, I look at what has happened really since we had that talk after the last time we played New York, and there’s been growth. There’s been growth with both of us. Our relationship has been very good.
“He knows anytime he can come into my office and talk about things if there’s frustration on the floor, just like all of our guys can. If we can continue this, if we have our guys that bought in and all together and on the same page, we’re a pretty good team.’’
They were in the fourth quarter against New York, turning a four-point third-quarter lead into a 20-8 run that left New York needing a standing eight-count.
“That’s the way we’re supposed to play,’’ Butler said. “Guard, guys stepping up and just knocking down big shots. Confident group of guys.’’
Butler led the Bulls with 23 points, while rookie Bobby Portis continued his impressive showing, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. And all was quiet afterwards.
“I think it’s just the ups and downs of a season,’’ Taj Gibson said of the circus-like atmosphere around his team. “It’s frustrating when you lose games to teams that aren’t that good. Things can be said. We got a lot of guys on the team who put in work, so it’s frustrating at times.’’