Bulls players remain all in on Fred Hoiberg even after third straight loss

SHARE Bulls players remain all in on Fred Hoiberg even after third straight loss
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It has been a recurring theme lately.

And Kris Dunn believes it should be lauded.

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He wasn’t referring to the outcome — a 124-115 loss Wednesday to the Raptors, the Bulls’ third defeat in a row — but the effort. More important, the man behind that effort.

“Oh, yeah, Fred [Hoiberg] is legit, for sure,’’ Dunn said. “I think he’s proved it, especially with a young group, a group that’s trying to develop, trying to learn. We’re all listening. We’re all buying into his system.

‘‘I think with any coach that’s trying to run anything, you have to be able to trust them, to buy into their system. I had to do it in college, had to do it in high school. When you buy into the system and understand your role, everything blossoms. I think he’s doing that for the group.’’

After a hot stretch in December, the Bulls (13-25) have been skidding lately, but each growth spurt usually is accompanied by some growing pains.

They’ve been keeping opposing teams on the ropes for three quarters but stumbling in the fourth.

The Bulls ended the third quarter tied at 90 with the red-hot Raptors (26-10) and took the lead in the fourth after two free throws by Jerian Grant. But there’s a basic talent deficit that they simply can’t overcome against certain teams.

The Raptors quickly ran the Bulls down in the fourth and outscored them 34-25 in the quarter.

But don’t mention a talent deficit to Justin Holiday, who led the Bulls with 26 points.

“Nope,’’ Holiday said. “That means nothing to me. As long as we do our job as a team, play hard, that gives us a chance.’’

Raptors star DeMar DeRozan made it difficult for the Bulls. He scored 35 points and went 5-for-8 from three-point range.

Dunn, who went 1-for-6 from the field and had two points, still likes where the team is headed.

“Fred cares about his players, and he gives players confidence,’’ Dunn said. “That positive vibe about him, that was good for the young guys. I think that’s what really helped us. He’s so positive with everybody.

‘‘He understood we were going to make mistakes, but at the same time, he just doesn’t let us keep making the same mistakes. He wants us to learn from it and build from it, and I think he’s doing a great job with that.’’

Don’t ask Hoiberg, however, about the job he has been doing in his third season. Thumping his chest just isn’t in his DNA.

“That’s one thing I’m really proud of this group, how they have made significant improvement as the season has gone on,’’ Hoiberg said when asked about a self-assessment. “Weathered the very tough start and found a way to play some really good basketball this last month.

“For these guys to continue to show the buy-in, it’s gratifying when you have a group that will come in every day and work and try to get better and learn from mistakes and all those types of things. I’m proud of these guys. For a young group to stick with it, it’s not always easy.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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