Tom Thibodeau after Knicks' tough loss to Bulls: 'You're always challenged in this league'

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Tom Thibodeau yells during game in Chicago, grey quarter zip
Tom Thibodeau yells during game in Chicago, grey quarter zip

The Knicks fell to 9-8 on the season after their disappointing 109-103 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

After the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau didn't make any excuses for the loss despite playing a back-to-back game and being without Mitchell Robinson (concussion) and Taj Gibson (groin).

"You're always challenged in this league," Thibodeau said. "Back-to-back for us, so come in you're playing a team that's playing well and fight like crazy, be in position to win. Then we got to find a way to close out it. We didn't get it done, but we'll take the positives, take a look at what we need to improve upon and get ready for the next game."

Nerlens Noel got the start at center with Robinson and Gibson sidelined, and found himself in foul trouble throughout the game. Noel recorded six points, five rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes of action to go along with his five fouls. Thibs talked about what Noel brings to the team, and said that everyone has to be ready when they're already down players.

"Nerlens gives us the rim protection that you need, but that's part of the game, everyone's got to be ready to play," Thibodeau said. "I liked the way we played for three quarters, and I felt that we weren't at our best in the fourth. But the fight was there and then we have to take a hard look at what happened in the fourth."

Thibodeau reiterated that everyone on the team needs to understand his role and do the job at hand, saying that having players out should not be an excuse for the loss.

"Well, we've had guys out all year, so just figure it out," Thibodeau said. "Everyone's here for a reason, everyone's capable. Everyone has to understand what their job is and go in and do your job, that's the bottom line."

The Knicks schedule doesn't get any easier over the next two weeks. They'll play the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns at home before traveling to play the Atlanta Hawks and then back to Brooklyn to face the Nets. They'll then get a rematch with the Bulls on Dec. 2 at home, followed by the Denver Nuggets coming into town.

"We got to build consistency," Thibodeau said. "And so understand what went wrong, what we have to fix, what we did well and get ready for the next game. That's the challenge of the season, so not to change. The games keep coming, sometimes the schedule is in your favor, sometimes it's not. So you have to handle it the same way, just get ready for the game."