Nets-Bulls Preview

After his predecessor was criticized for pushing the Chicago Bulls too hard, Fred Hoiberg was supposed to provide a player-friendly atmosphere while opening up the offense.

Jimmy Butler seemed to be longing for the old days under hard-driving Tom Thibodeau when he directed some critical comments in the direction of his new coach.

Following back-to-back frustrating losses, the Bulls hope to pull together and avoid matching their longest skid Monday night by dealing the Brooklyn Nets a ninth straight road defeat.

Chicago was one of the NBA's top defensive clubs while posting a .647 winning percentage over five playoff seasons under Thibodeau. But he was blamed by some for a lack of offensive creativity, playing starters too many minutes and creating an unpleasant atmosphere.

Hoiberg was brought in to provide a breath of fresh air while making better use of the team's deep roster and implementing his fast-paced, up-tempo offense that thrived at Iowa State.

Butler and Pau Gasol are averaging fewer minutes than last season, but the Bulls certainly don't seem to be any happier – or better offensively. After averaging 104.7 points per 100 possessions last season, they have one of the league's least efficient offenses this season at 98.3.

Butler had a career-high 43 points in more than 55 minutes Friday, Derrick Rose scored 34 while playing 54 and Gasol had 30 and 15 rebounds in his 48 of a 147-144 four-overtime home loss to Detroit. The Bulls (15-10), however, showed little energy the next night, falling 107-91 at New York.

Butler finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, Rose had six on 3-of-10 shooting and Gasol stayed behind in Chicago to rest. After shooting 39.4 percent from the floor and 5 for 21 from 3-point range, Butler vented about the team's lack of accountability.

“We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times. I'm sorry, I know Fred's a laid back guy, and I respect him for that,” the All-Star guard told the team's official website. “But when guys aren't doing what they are supposed to do, you've got to get on guys, myself included.

“It's making everybody do their job. We were not doing what we were supposed to be doing, what we wrote up on that board before the game. And nobody spoke up about it.”

Chicago hopes to take its frustration out on struggling Brooklyn while avoiding its second three-game losing streak. The Nets are in the midst of their own five-game slide following Sunday's 100-85 loss to Minnesota and also have dropped eight in a row on the road.

They've allowed an average of 108.3 points during that skid away from home, their longest since a 12-game streak from Dec. 22, 2010-Feb. 4, 2011. Brooklyn (7-20) has scored just 90.5 per game over its past four overall after going 5 for 21 from 3-point range Sunday.

''You can't guarantee you're going to make shots every night, but you can go out and compete every night,” said coach Lionel Hollins, whose club has a league-worst 30.9 3-point percentage.

Brook Lopez had 20 points and 12 rebounds against the Timberwolves, but Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson scored a combined 10 on 4-of-19 shooting. Lopez finished with 26 points on Oct. 28 when Brooklyn went 0 for 9 from beyond the arc in a 115-100 home loss to Chicago.

Rookie Bobby Portis may have earned more playing time with season highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds Saturday for the Bulls, who have won 13 of 17 regular-season matchups with the Nets.