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Updated: January 30, 2014 2:49PM



SAN ANTONIO – That bubble that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau demands his players to work in?

It’s getting smaller by the day.

Before Wednesday’s 96-86 win over San Antonio to start a six-game West Coast trip, Thibodeau was not only asked about the criticisms from outside the organization, but the ones from the inside. Specifically, Board Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf calling the team “mediocre’’ in a recent television interview.

“Jerry owns the team so he’s entitled to say whatever he wants,’’ Thibodeau said. “If that’s the way he feels … and the way I feel about our team is this: It’s that I’m really proud of them and we can do even better. So I’m not selling them short.’’

No, but a lot of others have been.

Analysts Charles Barkley and Jeff Van Gundy each took shots at Bulls management the last week, with Barkley telling ESPN that if the franchise doesn’t land Carmelo Anthony somehow, “they are going to be irrelevant for the next few years.’’

“We’re not going to respond to every rumor and things that this guy says and that guys says,’’ Thibodeau said. “The only thing that really matters is what we think. So we’re going to make the best decisions for our organization, the things that we feel gives us the best chance to have success.’’

Thibodeau was then once again asked if he felt ownership was actually committed to doing whatever it takes to pursue a championship and responded, “As I told you, Jerry with me has been terrific. I don’t have any problems with Jerry. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made that are tough decisions, they’re not easy ones. And so you do what you think is right. You don’t get them all right, but hopefully you get a lot more right than you get wrong. We’ve taken some hits so we have to navigate around what happened, and that’s what we’re doing.’’

They were also navigating around the Spurs defense at the AT&T Center Wednesday night, completely outplaying San Antonio (33-13) in the fourth quarter thanks to Kirk Hinrich’s return after missing the last four games (right hamstring). Hinrich had 11 points in the final stanza to help hand the Spurs their third-straight loss.

And yes, it was a San Antonio team with Manu Ginobili (hamstring) out for the next three weeks, as well as Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter sidelined, but the Bulls (23-22) are the last team to bring up injuries with considering what they have gone through this season.

The good news for the Bulls? With Hinrich back and Joakim Noah overcoming his flu-like symptoms that kept him out of the Monday loss to Minnesota, they are once again moving closer to full strength.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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