Hoiberg wants Bulls to feel urgency, but they don’t in loss
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PHOENIX — The Bulls don’t have the luxury of performing like they did Friday.
‘‘They out-competed us in every area,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said.
If the Bulls’ 115-97 loss to the Suns on Friday had occurred in December or even January? Understood, especially considering it was the fifth game of a six-game road trip.
But there’s a certain urgency that needs to be felt. An understanding that this team is having trouble grasping. There are three games left heading into the All-Star break, but then what?
“It’s a little different this year,” Wade said. “This is the first time since I’ve been in the NBA that we had this few games [remaining] coming out of the All-Star break. Normally you’re in the 30-35 range. Now we’re in the low or mid-20s. It’s definitely go time after that.”
They will have 25 games left to be exact, a number that even shocked Hoiberg.
“It’s crazy we only have 25 games after the All-Star break,” Hoiberg said. “And it’s going to be a sprint. You have to understand the importance, the urgency that you have to come out with every night because of some of those losses that we did have early in the year. That’s what it’s about right now for us. Focus on the task at hand and hopefully go out and play well every night and give ourselves a chance.”
The chances for the Bulls (26-28) seemed to improve as the team’s health improved.
Dwyane Wade (virus) was back after missing the game Wednesday against the Warriors, while Jimmy Butler (bruised right heel) returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing the last three games. The only player still sidelined was Paul Zipser (tendinitis in left ankle).
Neither Butler nor Wade looked 100 percent, however. Butler was taking many of his jumpers off his good foot, finishing 6-for-16 with 20 points, while Wade had a few nice defensive moments, but was 7-for-16 from the field.
The final game of this trip won’t be any easier, considering they have to travel to Minnesota, ran by former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who will be looking for the season sweep Sunday.
“[The dog days are] that stretch between the holidays and the All-Star Break, where if you play with focus and energy, you have a chance to beat anybody,” Hoiberg said. “If you don’t, then you have a chance to get beat by anybody. That’s what this league is this year.”
An ugly look
Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington never played with Charles Oakley, but he spent many minutes battling him in the paint. He called the situation between Oakley and the Knicks “bizarre.’’
Wennington said he couldn’t fathom why a team would turn its back on a former player like Oakley.
“You look at Charles, and New York had some very good teams and he was such a part of them,” Wennington said. “And not just a part of them, but a big part of them. It would be frustrating. I played on three NBA teams — Chicago, Dallas and Sacramento — and I’m welcomed back every time and every building I go to. And ownership has changed since I’ve played there. It would be very frustrating or disheartening if I couldn’t go back somewhere or felt like I wasn’t wanted or really not welcomed.’’
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.