SAN ANTONIO — Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf views the Bulls as a “mediocre” team. And given that they entered Wednesday night’s game at San Antonio with a 22-22 record, that point would be hard to argue.
But coach Tom Thibodeau sees it differently, saying: “Jerry owns the team, so he is entitled to say whatever he wants. The way I feel about our team is this: I’m really proud of them, and I think we can do even better. So I’m not selling them short.”
The Bulls began their six-game road trip with a 96-86 road victory over a Spurs team that began the night 21 games over .500. Not bad for a “mediocre” team.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Bulls, who were led by Jimmy Butler’s 19 points and Carlos Boozer’s 12 rebounds.
The Bulls, who committed just seven turnovers and allowed just six offensive rebounds, took control in the third quarter with a 14-3 run.
Joakim Noah had 10 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 blocks in 39 minutes. This after he missed Monday’s game with an illness and said repeatedly Wednesday morning that he felt terrible.
Kirk Hinrich returned after missing four straight games with a hamstring injury. He scored 11 points, hitting a runner high off the glass in the fourth quarter.
While calling the Bulls a “middle-of-the-pack team,” Reinsdorf also told WGN-Channel 9’s Rich King that the “future looks good, and you have to be proud of the way they’ve played this year. We’ve had games where we’ve had one (regular) starter and they never give up. That’s a reflection of the coach and also on the general manager.”
Thibodeau also reflected on comments made by Charles Barkley, who told WMVP-AM 1000’s “Waddle & Silvy Show” that the Bulls were “cheap” in how they dealt with Thibodeau’s extension.
“The guy is one of the best coaches in the NBA and they make him wait,” Barkley said. “It was like pulling teeth getting a contract. I really don’t have any problem with anything else they did. I have no problem with the Deng trade because they are not going to sign him for big money going forward.
“(But) I think they are in a very awkward situation. If they don’t do something dramatic like bring in a Carmelo (Anthony), they are going to be irrelevant for the next few years.”
Thibodeau’s response: “Jerry with me has been terrific; I don’t have any problems with Jerry. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made that our tough decisions. You do what you think is right. You don’t get ‘em all right, but hopefully you get more right than wrong.”