Bulls look to get back to basketball in Mexico City

The Bulls, coach Jim Boylen insists, aren’t going south. It’s just the destination for Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

“We are very thankful to be here, excited to play in this game,” Boylen said before Thursday’s much celebrated game in Mexico City.

Boylen said Chandler Hutchison was ill and would not play and that Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis with considerations of the altitude, which is higher than Denver, probably would play about 25 minutes.

Boylen also said the team’s leadership council would consists of Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday, Zach LaVine, Bobby Portis and Lauri Markkanen. Boylen said it originally was to be four players, but the players asked Markkanen to join.

“I said to the team, and we talked about it a bunch, we have to play better basketball and do the basics for the 48 more than we’ve been doing,” Boylen said. “We played 30-some minutes of really good basketball against Sacramento; I thought one of our best halves of the season defensively and offensively. We were locked in. We turned the ball over at the end of the third, we had some defensive miscues, they hit some shots, and the game turned. We didn’t respond to that very well. Those are the things we talked about. Those are the thing we’ve worked on. It’s a lot of moving parts right now; it’s the NBA. That’s what it’s about. We’re looking at different combinations and to get guys comfortable in a new system. Every night is a new opportunity to play the right way and play for one another.

“That’s kind of the way I look at it,” said Boylen. “I preach that to our guys: Play the best you can, try to win the next possession, follow your assignment and then follow the next assignment. We try to keep it really basic and really simple because there has been change. It is a new situation. Hopefully we can bond together, get on the road and play good basketball."

“We did have some distraction,” Boylen acknowledged about a question from a local journalist. “We had some situations. But at the end of the day, it brought us closer. It opened more lines of communication. Togetherness is something we talk about. That’s an act. It’s not just a word. I feel good about where we’re at. We practiced hard. We’ve been coachable, teachable and hopefully we become more reliable. That’s what we’re striving for. I have a willing group. I think where their hearts are and where their spirits are are in a really good place.”

Justin Holiday thanked the fans on behalf of the Bulls before the game.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver in his welcoming remarks being in Mexico City also was asked about the Bulls controversial week in relation to his initiate to provide more rest for players.

“First let me say to the general point, we think that the changes in the schedule have been very effective, and we’re hearing that directly from our teams and our players,” said Silver. “Eliminating the four games in five nights and dramatically reducing the back-to-backs has had a direct impact on the quality of the play on the floor and it’s resulted in less resting of players. We think that’s been successful.

“In terms of the Chicago Bulls specifically, I’m very careful not to get involved in the operation of any particular team,” said Silver. “I don’t know first-hand about a player who did or didn’t call the Players Association. I read the story. I do know about it, but no one called me to complain. The Players Association hasn’t talked to us. I accept though that in a group of young men who are playing there may be a difference in view occasionally in terms of when players should be practicing and how hard they should be working, but generally those issues are worked out by teams. And I read some of the comments that have come back from Bulls management, their coach, and there seems to be a meeting of the minds. Again, especially when a new coach comes in mid-season, that coach may have a different way of doing things than the prior coach. I think these great players in the NBA, they have lots of different coaches over their careers, beginning when they were young players, and there are different styles. I will say there are rules set up in the collective bargaining agreement in terms of practice times and days off. No one has suggested to me that any of those rules have been violated. And again, I’m so confident that teams know how to work through these issues and they don’t require the league to step in.’’