Bulls

Coach Fred Hoiberg wants Bulls to embrace playing with an edge

The Bulls’ front office did a great job of shaping the narrative in the Tom Thibodeau situation.

To this day, the Bulls-turned-Timberwolves coach still has a reputation as a grinder who runs his players into the ground, despite numerous current and ex-players disputing just how rigorous Thibodeau’s practices really were.

Heck, the Bulls have had more injuries since parting ways with Thibodeau than they did when he was their coach.

So if a player such as guard Zach LaVine would have talked about the team having ‘‘tired legs’’ — as he did after the Bulls’ embarrassing preseason loss Wednesday to the Bucks in Milwaukee — and Thibodeau still had been the coach, there might have been protests outside the Advocate Center.

But it’s coach Fred Hoiberg who has been working the Bulls hard in practice, and he isn’t about to apologize for that.

‘‘We’ve had very demanding practices,’’ Hoiberg said after the loss to the Bucks. ‘‘There’s no doubt about that. The day before [the loss] may have been our hardest practice of the year. But you can’t use that as an excuse. You still have to lay everything on the line.’’

That’s one of the major talking points Hoiberg is using this season: There’s no longer room for excuses, a lack of urgency or complacency.

‘‘We’ve had a really good camp,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘You can’t take that away. You can’t let one really bad experience take away from the progress we’ve made to this point. That being said, it shows you that we have so much to work on. It’s not just us; it’s every team at this time of year.

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‘‘The disappointing thing is when you walk into the locker room after the game and you know you got outworked. I said this [Wednesday]: When you get outrebounded by 21, that shows Milwaukee played harder than we did. When they get to the basket at will, when you don’t stay in front and the help isn’t there, that shows we’re not locked in. When the adversity hit, we tried to do it by ourselves and go one-on-one. You have to keep trusting and cutting hard and sacrificing for teammates. It’s a great learning lesson for this team.’’

And it’s one Hoiberg wants to see stick.

Saturday was the Bulls’ first scheduled day off of camp. They will board a flight early Sunday for Charlotte, North Carolina, where they will play the Hornets on Monday.

Hoiberg wants his team to play with an edge this season. If that means extra-hard practices to get that out of his players, so be it.

‘‘[Playing with an edge] is something we work on during practice, but we need to make sure that translates over to the game,’’ big man Robin Lopez said. ‘‘I really think it comes down to our mindsets. It’s got to be everybody on the floor challenging each other during the game, pushing each other to have that edge, to have each other’s backs.

‘‘I think there were a lot of times [Wednesday] when Milwaukee was able to dictate the tempo of the game offensively. They were probably too comfortable. We’ve got to be able to make it so the other team isn’t comfortable. I know it sounds obvious and stupid and idiotic, but we’ve got to make sure the other team isn’t just comfortable out there, just getting to the shots they want to get to.’’