Bulls’ Billy Donovan on Opener vs. Rockets: ‘We Got Our A** Kicked In’

Billy Donovan

Getty The Bulls coach offered praise to an unlikely player on the roster.

After an offseason that was swirling with changes to the Chicago Bulls organization, fans got a glimpse of what the beginning of a rusty team learning a new system could look like in the team’s preseason opener.

It’s rarely pretty.

The Bulls, undergoing a transition with first-year coach Billy Donovan, struggled from the onset, allowing the game’s first 12 points before picking up their first basket and crawled to 125-102 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday.

While it was just the preseason where the starting five played under 25 minutes, Donovan did not sugarcoat the loss but was also optimistic and likely expected plenty of teachable moments in the team’s first game since March 10.

“We got our a** kicked in, in a lot of ways, which was good,” he said, pivoting to the amount he learned about the team in his first game coaching the group. “I think it also gives us a point of reference from the standpoint of the things that we’ve gotta focus on.”

Follow the Heavy on Bulls Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!

 Donovan Breaks Down What Needs to Change in Rockets Rematch

The Bulls face the Rockets again on Sunday night in the second of four preseason games this season. Donovan addressed the media after a “very, very long” film session on Saturday morning attributed the loss to several factors.

“The competitive spirit as a group needed to be better in terms of stopping runs, in terms of finding ways to generate good shots or get stops or a rebound. I didn’t think that we helped at all well enough,” Donovan said, NBC Sports Rob Schaeffer reported.

Allowing the Rockets to sink 24 3-pointers at a 46.2 percent clip, the Bulls left plenty to be inspired on the defensive end.

“We have to be a help-orientated team. And we did not help each other,” Donovan said. “We left guys out on islands. When there were drives, we didn’t pull across and provide any rim protection or physicality at the basket in terms of taking charges or going vertical. I thought the floor was too open. We got driven. From a defensive standpoint, we have to fight harder to get over pick-and-rolls and get back on the ball to get our bigs out of coverage. There’s just a lot of things we need to do better.”

Offensively, the Bulls could not create off the switch in Donovan’s motion offense the former Oklahoma City coach is installing. The Bulls committed 25 turnovers compared to just five giveaways by the Rockets.

“If you’re going to move and pass, you’re gonna be more susceptible to turnovers,” Donovan said. “I thought in the game we did not read cuts well enough, we didn’t read switches well enough and I thought a lot of times we were going down there screening and knowing that somebody’s gonna switch. You’ve got to basically do different things to try to exploit and take advantage of the switch. I think that’s going to be a big, big part of us continuing to get better as a team.”

1st-Round Rookie Patrick Williams Shines in NBA Debut

Selected No. 4 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft less than a month ago, Bulls forward Patrick Williams impressed in the first game of his professional career.

The 19-year-old Florida State product scored 12 points, shooting 5-for-9 from the field while in 25 minutes.

He showed poise on his first NBA basket, pulling up from 22-feet deep in transition over Eric Gordon.

Williams looked smooth throughout the game and came alive in the third quarter, scoring six of his 12 points.

Also Read: