The problem for the Bulls: Butler never found his game.
"I'll be back," he said. "I promise I will be back. I am not worried at all."
Butler, sidelined to start the game as punishment for his comments after a loss Wednesday night, still led the Bulls in minutes with 33. He also was limited to two assists.
"We obviously had a very emotional day," Hoiberg said. "It's not an excuse for how we played. It's the worst game we've played all year, in my opinion."
Dwyane Wade?also came off the bench for similar comments and led the Bulls with 15 points. But his efforts weren't enough to make up for Butler's struggles.
Butler was the first off bench and received a loud ovation from the United Center crowd when he checked in with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter. Wade also received a loud ovation when he entered 28 seconds later.
Butler and Wade had delivered a clear message in postgame comments Wednesday to the media after a loss to Atlanta.
Butler had said that the Bulls "don't play hard all the time," while Wade accused some of his teammates of not caring enough about winning, saying, "I can't be frustrated and I can't care too much for these guys. [They] have to care for themselves."
Bulls guard? Rajon Rondo?then made headlines Thursday when he defended the "young guys" on the Bulls while writing on Instagram, "If anything is questionable, it's the leadership." Rondo's lengthy Instagram post also included a photo of himself with former Boston Celtics teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Rondo was greeted by some boos when he checked in with 5:05 to go in the first.
As part of his Instagram post, Rondo said his "vets" with the Celtics didn't take days off, a clear shot at Wade.
"I could take that as a personal attack," Wade said. "But what's that going to do for me? Come in here and fight Rajon because he said his vets practiced every day? I'm 35. I'm not practicing every day. That's very clear."
Butler and Wade said earlier Friday they didn't have a problem with Rondo's reaction.
"He spoke his mind. I spoke my mind. Move on,"?Butler said after Friday morning's shootaround.
"Everyone gets opportunities to express themselves," Wade added. "That's how [Rondo] chose to express himself. ... I have no hard feelings."
Hoiberg had said none of the three players would be suspended for their remarks but that they were fined an undisclosed amount. Hoiberg said it was his decision -- not management's -- to bench Butler and Wade.
"It's unacceptable to air your grievances through the media," Hoiberg said. "We talked about that in the very first meeting of the year. If you have issues, sit behind closed doors and talk about it, and we move forward and we get better because of it. From that standpoint, yeah, it was disappointing. But again, we're moving forward."
Rondo also spoke to reporters on Friday, noting that the post he sent out on Thursday night was the third draft of what he wanted to say.
"It's not that we don't like each other," Rondo said. "Some things came out that shouldn't have. ... When you express yourself and get everything out, it makes relationships better. When you communicate, you understand each other."
Bulls general manager Gar Forman said that the organization is "extremely disappointed" in players criticizing their teammates to the media and on social media.
"We have visited with the players who spoke out at length and dealt with it internally," said Forman, who did not take questions from reporters. "We've talked about it with the entire team."
Bulls executive vice president John Paxson also was present at the meeting.
With the controversy and recent struggles, Wade was asked after Friday's loss if he had any second thoughts about signing with the Bulls after spending his first 13 seasons with the Heat.
"I've been happy," he said. "The process of losing ballgames is never fun. ... I'm not having fun being an average team, from that standpoint, but I am enjoying the journey."
Information from ?ESPN's Nick Friedell and The Associated Press was used in this report.