Sports News

Bulls fall to Magic, and coach Billy Donovan gets real with season goals

ORLANDO, Fla. — There will be time for Bulls coach Billy Donovan to self-evaluate and do a deeper dive into the job he has done this season.

He does that every year when the season comes to an end.

That’s proof at least one member of the Bulls’ organization believes in accountability.

For now, however, Donovan is keeping his focus on trying to hold down the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference and earn a home game in the first round of the play-in tournament.

Is that a low-bar mentality? Even Donovan wasn’t going to pretend otherwise on a day the Bulls lost to the Magic 113-98.

‘‘I try to never use this as an excuse, but the reality is that you’ve got $70 million not playing [in injured players Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams and Lonzo Ball],’’ Donovan said of the coaching job he has done. ‘‘But I also said there’s enough in the locker room, and I
really believe that.

‘‘If I’m going to sit there and say there’s enough in the locker room and we’ve been kind of going like this [up and down], treading water, maybe had some good moments, some bad moments, things like that, if there is enough there, then I’ve got to figure out, ‘OK, what could I have done better or [what] can I do more going forward to help these guys?’

‘‘But I certainly didn’t come here [when I was hired in 2020] to say, ‘Hey, listen, let’s be a play-in team.’ When I sat down first with
[executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] and [general manager] Marc [Eversley] about this, it was to try and build something. I still feel like we’re building something, but I don’t think anyone is happy with where we’re at.’’

Where the Bulls are at is 37-41 and a game in front of the Hawks for the No. 9 spot with four games to play. Considering the Bulls hold the tiebreaker between the teams, it’s essentially a two-game lead. Either way, however, there’s no reason to start hanging banners.

That’s especially true in the wake of a loss to the Magic in which the Bulls committed 21 turnovers and were outscored 28-11 in points off turnover.

Veteran DeMar DeRozan pointed the finger at himself first. Considering he accounted for seven giveaways, he might have found the right guy.

‘‘I put that on me,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘That’s very uncharacteristic of myself, having seven turnovers. It’s going to eat me up. We just tried to do too much. Instead of making the simple simple, we were trying to make the simple harder than it was.’’

Still, DeRozan gave the Bulls a chance in the fourth quarter, opening it by outscoring the Magic 13-7 on his way to a 30-point night.

The Bulls were trailing by only six when a jumper by Paolo Banchero and a three-pointer by Joe Ingles pretty much put the game out of reach.

If there was some intrigue throughout the game, it was the trash-talking going on between Ingles and the Bulls’ Javonte Green, who was given the starting nod.

Green and Ingles shouted at each other several times, and
Ingles drew a technical for going at the Bulls’ bench with some verbal sparring in the first half.

‘‘It wasn’t nothing,’’ Green said afterward. ‘‘I guess you can call it friendly conversation. He just yelled something out when I was in the corner and shot that corner three [in the first quarter]. I just let him know things have changed.’’

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button