Bulls won't tone down aggressiveness

Jimmy Butler was a nonfactor in the first half Tuesday after picking up three quick fouls. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Despite early foul trouble that railroaded the Chicago Bulls in the second quarter of Tuesday's season opener against the Miami Heat, there are no plans to dial back the team's signature defensive intensity.

Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng were both saddled with early fouls Monday, and when both went to the bench because of them, the Heat went on a 17-0 run that essentially buried the Bulls.

Butler made assurances Tuesday that even though he might not have agreed with the calls against him, he's not about to alter his approach.

"It happens, but we know that we can't let it happen again," Butler said after practice Wednesday. "I know we're still going to be aggressive on both sides of the floor, especially on defense. If we get a foul call, we know now don't get two."

That might be easier said than done, especially if there are stretches like the first half Tuesday when the game is tightly called.

"That's tough because I'm an aggressive defender," Butler said. "I feel like when I get in foul trouble I can't be as aggressive, and I mean, maybe some calls went against me that I don't agree with, but at the end of the day, I still can't foul."

Coach Tom Thibodeau continued to point to foul trouble and not early team chemistry issues, bad calls or a tightly called game as a reason for the Bulls' issues in the opener.

"The start of the game was good," Thibodeau said. "Whatever the circumstances are, whether it's foul trouble or whatever it might be, when our second unit comes in, they have to play well. The defense and rebounding is something we have to count on.

"Once we got going and started moving the ball in the second half, we got better shots. The offense came around. But we never re-established our defense. To beat a team like that, particularly on the road, you have to play more than 10 or 15 good minutes. You have to do it for a whole game. We still have a long way to go."

There was more instruction time and videotape review at Wednesday's practice than court time as the Bulls get ready for Thursday's home opener against the New York Knicks.

"We scored 62 points in the second half, and 92 points should be enough to win," Thibodeau said. "I'm more concerned with giving up 107. We gave up 37 in the second quarter. That's not good. The first quarter, they shot 30 percent and then went on a tear after that. We have to do a lot better."

While plenty of things went wrong in Tuesday's game at Miami, the main issue kept coming back to a lack of aggressiveness that was set in motion by the foul trouble.

"We've got to guard, rebound and especially guard the [3-point] line," Butler said about what the Bulls learned in the opener. "They got a lot of open 3s, and their bench really got comfortable. I feel like we've got to take them out of what they do and just be the aggressor on both sides of the floor."