Butler, who is considered one of the team’s best defenders, said that he should be setting the tone on defense.
"I think it starts with me, to tell you the truth,” Butler said to ESPN.com. "I'm supposed to be this prime-time defender and I don't think I've been holding up my end of the bargain lately.”
Chicago is allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions this season, ranking 12th in the NBA after finishing second in that category last season. Opponents have scored 100 or more points against the Bulls 25 times this season, including allowing 101 in a loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
The team’s defensive struggles prompted guard Derrick Rose to rip his teammates earlier this month, accusing them of not being on the same page.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told the Chicago Tribune that he agreed with Butler’s assessment of his defense, saying he is capable of playing better.
“But the challenge starts on the ball and all of our bigs have to do a better job. Every aspect of defense is five guys tied together. You can't short-cut the process of working together,” Thibodeau said, according to the Tribune.
Butler leads the league in minutes played and is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.6 points, six rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Bulls (30-20), who have lost three in a row and have two more games left on their current road trip. Chicago sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just one game out of third place.
- Scooby Axson