Thibs wants to see 4th-quarter improvement

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau saw continued improvement from his team in a 92-81 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the Bulls are still far from where he wants them to be after five preseason games.

Thibodeau again was especially displeased with the Bulls’ fourth-quarter performance. Both teams went basket-for-basket in the quarter and each scored 22 points.

“We have got to get better,” said Thibodeau, whose team improved to 3-2 in the preseason. “We have to recognize the difference between the fourth quarter and first three quarters. The intensity level is different. We have to execute better, and we need to watch our spacing. We need to recognize the matchups and go to the hot hand.

“We are playing hard and we need to be playing smart. We have to do it collectively. When we are standing and dancing with the ball, that is when we get into trouble. When the ball moves freely, good things happen for us.”

In the fourth quarter, the Bulls’ lead fluctuated from as high as 18 points to as low as 10 points. They shot 8 of 19 from the field.

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer, who scored a game-high 24 points, thought the team’s problems occurred throughout the second half, not just the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves outscored the Bulls 46-42 in the second half after the Bulls led 50-35 at halftime.

“It was the third/fourth (quarters,) it was the second half,” Boozer said. “Our flow was a little different. We started trading baskets with them. We had a huge lead in the third quarter. We were up 16, 17, whatever it was. That beginning of the fourth quarter wasn’t what (Thibodeau) wanted, so he brought us (starters) back in. We did a very good job there at the end, but there was a stretch there we just traded baskets with them. That’s not something we like to do.”

Bulls forward Luol Deng felt the same.

“We got to finish games better,” said Deng, who had 14 points.

With two preseason games remaining, Thibodeau is hopeful the Bulls will make even more strides.

“We want to just keep doing it,” Thibodeau said. “We understand the regular season is real close, but we have a long way to go. But our defense is getting better and better. You see the way we got this rolling. Carlos did a phenomenal job getting himself going early and that’s what it is going to take. Every night someone is going to step up. We did a great job on D.”