CHICAGO -- The Bulls' coaches and players agree on at least one thing: The team meetings held instead of a scheduled practice on Sunday were needed for the young squad.
Players said that despite emotions running high following Saturday night's 133-77 loss to the Boston Celtics -- the Bulls' largest losing margin in a game in team history -- Monday's shootaround ahead of their game against the Sacramento Kings was productive.
"I think we came out the better for it," Robin Lopez said of Sunday's meetings. "I think we're more understanding."
After Saturday's loss, in which new coach Jim Boylen sat his starters for the final 21 minutes, the new coach explained that he didn't play those five players in part because they would be better served by practicing the next day. Before the Monday night game, Boylen said he "absolutely" planned a more difficult practice for Sunday, but his plan changed.
"I have the prerogative to change my mind," Boylen said.
Boylen said his decision to shift away from a tougher practice was not influenced by hearing word of players' plans to not practice. He also said he has taken into consideration the fact that eventually the franchise will be looking to attract free agents who might ask questions about the level of toughness with which he coaches.
"I don't think it's a deterrent [for a free agent] because the free agent we would want is a guy who would want to work after a 56-point loss," Boylen said.
Boylen emphatically pushed back on the notion that the entire team did not want to practice Sunday.
"That is not true," Boylen said. "The truth is we had a couple guys that thought a Sunday practice was excessive after the week we had. And they have to trust me that if I bring them in here to practice, I'm going to manage their legs and manage what we're going to do.
"We cleared that up, and we're moving on. Everybody is allowed to make a mistake. Everybody is allowed to get sideways a little bit. This is an emotional roller coaster at this level. So, new coach, tough week, big win, we got our butt kicked. Everybody is human. Everybody has a reason to do what they do, and a lot of times we've all done it where we look back and say, 'God, I wish I would've done that differently.' We could've handled that differently."
Despite clearing the air, Yahoo! Sports reported Monday afternoon that some Bulls players contacted the NBA with concerns about Boylen's coaching tactics. When asked about it, Boylen said he had no problem with players reaching out to players association officials.
"Call 'em," Boylen said. "I know the rules. No problem. It doesn't deter from what we're going to work [on] and we're going to practice."
For the first time this season, the Bulls had a full roster Monday night. Bobby Portis and Kris Dunn returned to the court after missing nearly seven weeks each with sprained MCLs. Dunn suffered his injury in the Bulls' Oct. 22 game against the Mavericks, and Portis' injury occurred two days later during Chicago's game against Charlotte.
Portis came off the bench and played 19 minutes in Chicago's 108-89 loss Monday night, recording 9 points, 8 rebounds and a block. Dunn also came off the bench for the Bulls, scoring 9 points in 20 minutes of action with 3 rebounds and 6 assists.
"It's nice to start getting guys back," Lopez said. "One thing I do wish is I do wish [former coach] Fred [Hoiberg] had been given that opportunity. But we have Jim as our coach now. We're going to go out the way he wants us to play and do things the way he wants them done."