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Jimmy Butler Rips the Bulls' awful defense

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Butler was not happy after giving up an embarrassing 130 points and blasted the team's effort.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row, Jimmy Butler is mad as hell about the Bulls' defense.

Butler ripped the team's defensive play to reporters after an embarrassing blowout loss in which the Bulls gave up 130 points to the Hornets. The same Hornets powerhouse that had the 28th-ranked offense last year and came into last night's game ranked 18th.

Here's what Butler told ESPN's Nick Friedell:

"We ain't been playing no defense. Other teams have just been missing shots to tell you the truth, to be honest. [Shoot] we score enough points, that's not the problem. But when you don't stop nobody, they put up 130 or whatever they did, we got to nip that in the bud now because that's not winning basketball. It will never be winning basketball here and it never has been winning basketball here. We've always prided ourself on playing hard and not being pretty. Tonight, we were pretty, we were soft. Got our asses whipped."

The Bulls had the 4th ranked defense before the game (they dropped to 16th), but maybe, as Butler claims, that was just based on teams missing open shots.

Butler blamed the team's focus and talent on offense for the defensive struggles.

"I think the root comes from everybody that can score on the roster," Butler said. "When you got guys that can put the ball in the basket they want to play basketball and try to outscore teams, instead of trying to get more stops than that other team. We ain't never going to have a problem scoring because everybody knows all the freedom that we get on offense."

Butler claimed that there was an easy fix for the Bulls' defensive problems: Effort.

"Effort will fix all of that on the defensive end. It's all if you want to do it or not, to tell you the truth. I think we got guys capable of it. I think we focus too much on offense a lot of the time. Not most of the time, a lot of the time. And we forget about what you got to do on the other end of the floor. Speaking for myself, speaking for a lot of guys on this team, we got to guard. That's where it's got to start for us. We got to be the dogs that everybody in Chicago knows we are, we've always been. Just some hard-playing guys that play harder than everybody."

This isn't the first time that Jimmy Butler has gone off about the Bulls' defense.

Last year, the Bulls fell out of the top 10 defensive teams for the first time in the Thibodeau era. Despite being named to the All-Defensive Second Team, Butler was his own harshest critic on his and the team's defensive play. He told the media last season in a February 2015 press conference:

I think [the defense] starts with me, to tell you the truth. 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. So I think whenever I start kicking it up three, four notches on defense and not worry about offense as much, I think it'll all turn around.''

"You have to pick and choose your battles and save your energy for both ends of the floor now. I'm not going to lie, I thought it was going to be easier than it is. But to go on one end and produce and then go on the other end and have to stop the best player on the opposing team is not always an easy task."

He reiterated these same comments in April to Friedell:

"I'm supposed to be the prime-time defensive guy, and I haven't been guarding a soul. I've been worried about offense too much, and I need to change that quickly or it's going to be my fault."

Butler seems to strongly believe that there is a fundamental dichotomy between effort on offense and defense. He thinks that the Bulls are concentrating too much on offense at the expense of defense, which would make sense given the coaching change that has taken place.

As for his own play, he's backing up his strong words on the court.

Butler was not a good defender during the regular season last year, as he acknowledged in those quotes. After calling himself out though, his defense improved tremendously.

Through NBA.com's stats page, we can track if Butler held his opponents to higher or lower field goal percentages than their season averages. During last year's regular season, opponents shot 4% better than their season averages when Butler was guarding them. Butler's defensive numbers were the worst on the team outside of Doug McDermott.

When the playoffs hit though, Butler stepped up his game. Opponents shot 10% worse with Butler guarding them.

Butler has continued his solid defense this year - opponents are shooting about 6% worse when Butler's matched up on them (here's the defensive stats for the rest of the Bulls).

Butler is also 4th in the league in steals and had a pretty insane space jam steal during crunch time of the Magic game a few nights ago along with the game-saving denial on LeBron to close out the Bulls' first game.

There are cracks forming in the Bulls' defense. Jimmy Butler has stepped up to the plate - will his teammates follow?