The Chicago Bulls rebounded from a crushing home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday with a team effort Thursday in a 114-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Six players scored in double figures, including Ayo Dosunmu’s 22-point night on 9-of-10 shooting, and Coby White added 20 points. The Bulls will need more games with everyone contributing, especially if Alex Caruso misses time after spraining his right foot.
“We have a very deep team, and at this point in the season we’re going to need everyone to come out and play on both ends,” Dosunmu said.
Some Bulls players were miffed that Dosunmu wasn’t selected to the Rising Stars Game on All-Star Weekend after being picked last year as a rookie.
“We all know what he can do, what he has been doing the entire season,” forward Patrick Williams said. “I’m always in his corner, and he’s always in mine, just being the young guys on the team.”
Dosunmu’s offensive numbers are on par with last year’s, when the second-round pick surprised many with his emergence to a starting role. But this year, he’s been more inconsistent on a nightly basis, just like the team itself. Thursday was Dosunmu’s first game of 20-plus points since scoring 22 on Oct. 24 against the Boston Celtics.
Perhaps the snub could push Dosunmu. His aggressive play helped make up for off nights from DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, who combined for 12 and nine turnovers, respectively, against the Clippers and Hornets.
Here are three takeaways from this week’s homestand, which continues Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
1. Every NBA team complains about calls that don’t go their way.
TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley on Thursday poked fun at media outrage over an obvious missed foul on Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James on a potential winning play during a nationally televised game against the Celtics. Barkley made reference to the “idiots, fools and jackasses on TV complaining” about the call.
The Bulls don’t get the same kind of media attention as James, who made a scene when he didn’t get the call. But DeRozan was livid after Tuesday’s loss when he thought he was fouled by the Clippers’ Reggie Jackson on a drive for the potential go-ahead basket with 38 seconds left.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” DeRozan said afterward. “Try to be aggressive, try to get downhill, and clearly it was a foul. It just sucks that you wake up and read the Last Two Minutes Report and something else will be missed that possibly could have cost us the game. That’s the more frustrating part.”
DeRozan was vindicated the next day in the Two Minute Report that addresses missed calls, which stated Jackson made contact with the Bulls star’s left arm and should have led to a pair of free throws.
Critical calls that were missed have happened to the Bulls multiple times in crucial situations, but coach Billy Donovan said it does no good to complain.
“We just don’t have any control over it,” Donovan said. “I don’t know where we rank in terms of other teams, but we’ve obviously had some difficult calls. I know we’re not the only team. It is what it is, so to speak.
“I think you’ve got to focus on things that we could’ve done better in that stretch, the last two minutes, the last five minutes, (and) really the whole entire game.”
Veteran Bulls writer Sam Smith facetiously asked if Bulls players falling to the court “in anguish like LeBron James” would help. But Donovan wouldn’t bite, saying officials have a hard job and aren’t trying to make mistakes. The Bulls coach then pointed out that “we’ve had quite a few of those situations late (in losses).”
Asked if the Last Two Minute Reports are good for the game, Donovan said it makes sense to show the “integrity” of NBA officials.
“When something happens late in the game and people talk about it (and say), ‘Well, he got the call because of who he is,’ or ‘He didn’t get the call because of who he is,’ or “This official this, or this official (that),” Donovan said. “I think it eliminates that stuff, where there’s more of an accountability.”
2. Andre Drummond came up big in Thursday’s win.
The Bulls center had 15 points and 11 rebounds in 14 minutes, 44 seconds. According to the Bulls, Drummond is one of eight players in NBA history with at least two double-doubles in only 15 minutes of playing time, and happened with the Bulls.
That begs the question of why Drummond has disappeared from Donovan’s rotations.
Drummond is averaging less than 13 minutes per game, and over the previous nine games averaged 5.2 minutes in four games, with five games in which he didn’t get off the bench.
“Being a good teammate at the end of the day, when my number is called I’m prepared and ready to play,” Drummond said. “I’m just happy with the win.”
Drummond knew he’d back up Nikola Vučević when he signed a two-year, $6.56 million deal last summer, but he didn’t come to Chicago to sit on the bench.
“I’m never OK with it,” Drummond said. “At the end of the day I’m a basketball player. I want to play. But the circumstances I’m in, I have to work my way back to where I want to get to, so there are certain routes I have to take to get there.”
Has he thought of talking to Donovan about what he has to do to prove he deserves more playing time?
“I don’t have to,” Drummond said. “I think I’ve done that throughout my career. That’s the position I’m in right now, and I’m a professional at the end of the day.”
Drummond has no interest in asking for a trade, saying: “I like it here.” But if Vučević is dealt before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, Drummond may get those minutes by default.
3. Patrick Williams left Thursday’s game in the fourth quarter after rolling his right ankle.
Donovan had no update afterward, and though Williams admitted it was swollen, he didn’t feel like the ankle would be a major concern.
Williams also rolled his right ankle in mid-November during a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Looking at the bright side, it’s good to have something you can bounce back quick from,” he said, pointing to the broken left wrist that sidelined him for all but 17 games in 2021-22. “Last year I couldn’t do anything because I was in a cast.”
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