Bulls cancel practice, hold meeting

CHICAGO -- After six losses in eight games over a 13-day span, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau canceled a practice Tuesday for a team meeting and individual work.

"It was a good meeting," Bulls center Pau Gasol said Wednesday. "Positive, important, where people just spoke up, shared their thoughts. If we want to get out of this slump, we've got to do it together. We can't really do it individually. We have to do it together as a team, as a group. And that's how you get through stuff, especially adversity."

Before Gasol talked to reporters, Thibodeau downplayed the interactiveness of the meeting.

"It was a meeting about where we are, and then to talk about how we can make it better," Thibodeau said.

After a 108-94 loss in Cleveland on Monday, the second straight game in which the Bulls failed to have a lead, several players spoke up about their rising frustration.

"We got to give a better effort," Derrick Rose said that night. "It seems like we're not even competing, and it's f---ing irritating."

Thibodeau was optimistic after Wednesday's practice, which featured a rare day of full, or nearly full, participation.

Mike Dunleavy, who has missed 10 straight games with a right ankle injury, "did everything," and Joakim Noah, out the last three games (and most of a fourth) with a right ankle injury, "did some."

Thibodeau wasn't sure if Dunleavy would play against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday at the United Center. The Bulls listed Dunleavy as questionable in Wednesday's injury report.

"I want to see how he feels tomorrow," he said.

Practice must have been good for the detail-oriented Thibodeau, as it lasted for just 1 hour, 15 minutes. What did they work on?

"Mostly competition," Gasol said. "We just needed to get that edge back. We needed to get that aggressiveness back in our game, so we kind of went at it at each other. One-on-one drills, three-on-three drills, scrimmage, competing, which is not something that we can do or we do during practices at all. So, it was great to kind of have that opportunity to do that today."

In their six losses over the last two weeks, the Bulls have given up an average of 106.7 points. The Bulls, known for their defensive intensity under Thibodeau, have given up at least 100 points 22 times through 43 games.

The Bulls (27-16) are allowing an average of 99.7 points per game, which is 16th in the NBA, while scoring 102.1, which is tied for ninth. Through 43 games last season, the Bulls were 22-21, giving up 92.9 points, but only scoring 93 points.

Rose played in 10 of the first 11 games before going down with a knee injury. Now with Rose back, but on a minutes restriction, and the Bulls missing Noah and Dunleavy, the team is muddling through this month, especially on defense. Chicago is 4-6 since Dunleavy went down on Jan. 1. Noah hurt his ankle at the end of the first half against the Wizards.

Washington outscored the Bulls 61-49 in the second half.

Thibodeau said he's surprised the Bulls have won as much as they have, given their injuries.

"Our margin of error is so small because of all the guys we have out," Thibodeau said. "We can't afford to not play with great intensity all the time."

As for his status, given the team's relative struggles, Thibodeau smirked at the idea he was on any kind of hot seat.

"Could care less," he said.