Fred Hoiberg is hoping to put last week in rearview mirror

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has sidestepped tough questions with vague responses most of the season, but ‘‘The Mayor’’ could only play politician for so long.

On Wednesday, Hoiberg finally discussed the toll the previous week had taken on him and his team, and he said the only way to respond is by winning games.

That’s why walloping the Thunder 128-100 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to start a six-game trip was so crucial.

“You can’t pay attention to it if you want to survive in this league as a player, as a coach, whatever role you may be in,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘You have to do the best you can of not letting it rule your life. Go out and do the job.

“Winning does cure all. There’s no doubt about that. We want to just take positive steps as a team.

Last week, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade were critical of their teammates after the Bulls blew a late 10-point lead against the Hawks. That led to Rajon Rondo questioning their leadership skills on Instagram. All three were fined, and Wade and Butler were benched for five minutes in a loss to the Heat on Friday.

Then this week, a story comes out that the front office might have tried to strong-arm Butler into signing a contract in 2014 by threatening to take away his minutes. Butler said he couldn’t “remember’’ the details of the negotiations.

“I played in this league for 10 years, I was in a front office for five, and there’s a point in every season that a team goes through what we just did,’’ Hoiberg said. “Teams have gone through that, and we’re not the only team that’s gone through similar situations. They happen all the time in this league.

‘‘It’s how you tackle it, how you conduct your business from that point forward that is going to define your season, and hopefully with what we did last week as a team, we’ll have long-term benefits and just continue to get better.’’

Getting 25 assists and playing team defense against the Thunder was a good start.

“Just a great team win from start to finish,’’ Wade said. “We really executed our game plan, especially defensively. Offensively, we just picked up from how we played against Philly. Everyone was involved; the ball was moving around.’’

Not even a comparison

Wade was asked to compare his split with LeBron James two years ago to the split between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, and he said that it was apples and oranges.

“A totally different situation,’’ Wade said. “Me and LeBron came in as opponents. We played against each other for seven years. And then, I never thought we would play together. We had an opportunity to enjoy four years together. We were both blessed by that.

“For me, it was all about making sure that he’s happy with whatever he’s doing.

“I don’t know anything about the relationship between [Durant and Westbrook], so I can’t comment on theirs, but I know ours was just different.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.


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