Bulls’ Zach LaVine Calls Out Refs in Gut-Wrenching Blazers Loss

Zach LaVine

Getty Zach LaVine disagreed with a game-changing call in the Bulls' loss to the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday.

The Chicago Bulls have struggled to close out games this season, sure. But Saturday’s 123-122 loss to the Portland Trailblazers was unprecedented.

With a five-point lead in hand, the Bulls gave up a pair of 3-pointers to Damian Lillard in the final 11.5 seconds of action. If you ask Zach LaVine or Billy Donovan, how the final shot came to Lillard an utter absurdity.

After Lillard’s first three of the sequence cut the Bulls’ lead to two points, Thad Young inbounded the ball to LaVine. Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood swarmed the ball, tying up LaVine and forcing a whistle and jump ball call with 6.2 seconds remaining, setting the following play to transpire.

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LaVine Argues ‘It Wasn’t a Jump Ball’

LaVine took responsibility that the team should have never been in the position to lose the game on the final jump ball, but he also argued that neither Hood nor Trent had their hands on the ball to force the play.

“It was a quick whistle,” LaVine said. “There’s a lot of things you can’t control. But it happened. I didn’t think it was a jump ball. I didn’t think they had their hands on the ball. But it was called. So that’s the way the game goes.”

Coach Billy Donovan concurred with the Bulls superstar even after re-watching the play before speaking to reporters, per NBC Sports Rob Schaeffer.

“I thought it was a very, very quick jump ball call in that situation,” Donovan said. “It was about as quick of a jump ball as I’ve ever seen, and you can’t challenge that. I didn’t think it was really a good call at that point in time. Like I get tie-ups but they just kind of like grabbed the ball and then [the official] just called jump ball.”

Donovan Takes Blame for Final Play

While Donovan agreed with LaVine, he did regret not using the team’s final timeout after Lillard’s first three.

“I saw the ball get inbounded to Zach. I thought we were in pretty good shape,” Donovan said. “But obviously from my perspective, that’s probably one (timeout) I would have liked to have used.”

Donovan added: “We got it to Zach. Hindsight, I probably should have called a timeout. I probably should have done that. I feel bad about that. Who knows what would have happened on the inbound, being out of timeouts? You never know… We got it to Zach, who’s a great free throw shooter. But obviously, looking at the outcome, I would have liked to have used a timeout.”

Adding another gut-wrenching loss to the season, the Bulls, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference, will try to end a three-game losing skid on Monday against the New York Knicks.

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