After the Chicago Bulls lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime on January 2, head coach Billy Donovan sounded off on the pivotal missed call on Donovan Mitchell in the closing seconds of regulation.
Per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Donovan said Mitchell committed a lane violation on his putback shot that forced overtime. Donovan then added that the Bulls “need to block out better” and would not exonerate the Bulls’ mistake there.
Johnson added a screen grab of the play itself in which Mitchell stepped over the line before the shot hit the rim, which would qualify as a lane violation.
Because the lane violation was not called, Mitchell managed to put back his own miss, which sent the game into overtime which the Cavaliers eventually won.
Although that is what sent the game into overtime, the Bulls still had the chance to win the game but failed to pull it off. The loss puts the Bulls at 16-21, and they are now tied with the Toronto Raptors for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Ex-Bull Makes Joke About Mitchell’s Performance
After the game ended, Cavaliers big man and former Bull Robin Lopez made a funny gag about Mitchell’s 71-point performance by including his own scoring total.
“I’m going to get it out of the way and point out that Donovan Mitchell and Robin Lopez combined for 72 tonight. Hashtag Historic Game,” Lopez tweeted.
Technically, Lopez is not wrong, as he put up one point seven minutes of action against his former team, but the joke speaks for itself here.
Lopez has since had stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, and now the Cavaliers since his tenure with the Bulls ended.
NBA Admits to Missing Call in Previous Cavaliers-Bulls Game
On December 31, 2022, the Cavaliers and Bulls matched up in a game that was competitive to the very last second. With the Bulls down one, DeMar DeRozan attempted a rather awkward-looking midrange shot that hit the back iron as the buzzer sounded.
On Jan 1, Daniel Greenberg tweeted that the NBA admitted that Caris LeVert should have been called for a foul on DeRozan on that last play.
Had the foul been called, DeRozan would have not only had two free throws but also would have been given the chance to puts the Bulls up with very little time left for the Cavaliers to catch up.
Moments between the missed foul call on LeVert could potentially make all the difference in the Bulls’ fate this season. With the losses piling up, and the Bulls not even in the play-in picture at the moment, the pressure will continue to mount that they start over knowing that they are in danger of giving a lottery pick to the Orlando Magic after this season thanks to the Nikola Vucevic trade.
With the season reaching its midway point and the NBA Trade Deadline a month away, the Bulls have to decide which direction they want to go in.