Billy Donovan and DeMar DeRozan think soaring bulls may be even better
Donovan and DeRozan believe Bulls’ soaring boom could get better originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
NEW YORK – After the Chicago Bulls’ impressive shorthanded victory over the Nets, who both won the season series and took them half a game away from the Eastern Conference lead, Billy Donovan asked about its importance.
Donovan spoke for almost 3 minutes. Like any coach, he saw more areas for improvement than opportunities to relax.
And while he praised the Bulls’ competitive spirit, especially since they won without Patrick Williams, Coby White, Javonte Green and with Alex Caruso who only played eight minutes with a hamstring awkward, he concluded with that thought.
âI’m not going to sit there and take a game in mid-December and act like it’s amazing. It’s a game, Donovan said. âWe have to be better than we were tonight. And we are able to be better.
Think of yourself as a defendant, Eastern Conference.
This mindset, this ability to focus on the job, is a big reason why this hard-headed, serious-minded group is sitting where they are doing it. That’s a big reason why they are defying preseason odds and not leaving.
The Bulls are real.
âI’m not taking anything away from our guys because the only thing I think you have to have to be a really good team is what these guys have. They’ll fight and compete and they’ll really try to bounce back, âDonovan said, perhaps realizing he needed to tone down what certainly sounded like post-game criticism after such an unlikely win. “I like that competitive spirit in these guys.”
This competitive spirit is why DeMar DeRozan hit his best fourth-quarter goal tally with 13 of his 29 points. That competitive spirit is how Lonzo Ball shook off recent 3-point shooting blues to sink a huge one – on an assist from DeRozan – for a five-point lead with 16.9 seconds left.
This competitive spirit fueled Ayo Dosunmu’s state of mind as he accepted the bigger role that came with Green’s new absence and Caruso’s inability to finish. Dosunmu scored 11 points, offered a highlight block and sank a critical free throw with 9.3 seconds left for a four-point lead.
âIt’s about staying mentally prepared, always staying mentally locked up,â Dosunmu said. âThere were some games from the previous two games where I didn’t play as much as I did tonight. But it’s about staying ready. In times like these I think about the way you treat yourself and the way you are mentally locked in, it continues when it is your opportunity. “
Reminder: these words came from a recruit.
But Dosunmu’s mental toughness and approach matches the collective personality of this team. It even extends to players without rotation. Time and time again this season, a player who has been completely out of the rotation comes in and contributes, even if only for limited minutes.
Against the Nets, Tony Bradley and Troy Brown Jr. offered contributions with the rotation in motion. Bradley helped reverse the bounce script in 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Brown had five points, six rebounds and three assists in 13 minutes, taking on the challenge of trying to slow Kevin Durant down.
âIt’s the one thing that I think has been great about Alize (Johnson) and Matt (Thomas) and Troy and Tony. When they were off the rotation and not playing, they were doing the job. They are playing 5v5. They are lifting themselves up, âsaid Donovan. âWhen the game is over the other night against New York, Matt Thomas is at the back of the Garden practicing. Troy Brown is training. It would be very easy to get dressed, shower and go out to dinner. They did the job and I give them a lot of credit for staying ready. “
And then, if there’s a chance late, DeRozan and Zach LaVine usually work their magic.
Like Donovan, DeRozan largely downplayed the importance of winning the first two games against the Nets, who are widely regarded as an Eastern Conference favorite.
He focused more on the personality of the team.
âSays a lot about our team. What resilience. How we approach challenges. We do not hesitate to them. We accept them, âDeRozan said. âYou want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
âWe’re just going to keep coming. We have learned not to belittle ourselves. We are learning a very critical part of the understanding game to stay balanced and balanced. There is a lot of time in the game for things to change. Stay the course. Do what we are working on. Trust our offense. Trust our defense. Trust each other. This is what we do.”
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