Chicago Bulls

Tom Thibodeau returns to Chicago with the Timberwolves on Tuesday

Taj Gibson won’t be lulled by the 6-18 record the Timberwolves will carry into the United Center on Tuesday following Sunday’s loss to the Warriors.

The veteran forward knows what’s coming regarding Tom Thibodeau‘s game preparation.

“He used to tell us in the locker room, ‘You got to hate those guys. You got to stick it to them,'” Gibson said with a laugh. “So I know he’s going to come in here and have those young guys ready and waiting.”

Thibodeau returned to the United Center last summer for a scrimmage with USA Basketball, for which he serves as an assistant coach. But Tuesday marks his first game prowling the sidelines for another NBA team since the Bulls fired him in May 2015 following a 255-139 mark in five seasons.

“It’s going to be weird,” Gibson said. “I’m so used to hearing him just yell my name out so frequently, ‘Taj! Taj!’ I’m used to (coach) Fred (Hoiberg‘s) voice now. But when I hear that (Thibodeau) bark, I may glance back.

“It’s kind of a nerve-wracking feeling because you know that guy knows everything about you. He knows all your moves. It’s going to be a good prep.”

Final fade: The Bulls endured a scoreless stretch of 3 minutes, 25 seconds in the fourth quarter Saturday, emblematic of their final-period scoring woes.

“We need to work on our fourth-quarter execution,” said Hoiberg, who admitted it may be partly a mental issue now. Early on, our pace was still there. But once (Miami) made their run, that’s when we hung our heads a little bit and slowed things down and didn’t execute.”

Fittingly, free throws from Jimmy Butler bookended the drought. Butler attempted a season-high 16 free throws and now has shot double-digit free throws in 14 of 23 games.

Number crunching: The Bulls prevailed over the Heat despite their bench getting outscored for the 13th straight time and scored 105 points while making just one 3-pointer on eight attempts. A free-throw advantage of 31-18 and winning the rebounding battle helped again.

“I’m confident we’ll hit double digits in 3-pointers again this season,” Hoiberg said. “I can’t tell you exactly when. But Niko (Mirotic) is shooting the ball better. He’s more confident now. And getting Doug (McDermott) back obviously helps us with our spacing.”

Layups: Denzel Valentine drew first-half minutes and Jerian Grant logged second-half playing time as Isaiah Canaan didn’t play by coach’s decision for the first time. . . . The Bulls recalled R.J. Hunter from the Windy City Bulls.

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