Billy Donovan Addresses Bulls’ Latest Backcourt Injury

Ayo Dosunmu Bulls-Hornets

Getty Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu handles the ball during a game against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Chicago Bulls experienced real heartache — for the umpteenth time this season — at the end of their Sunday bout with Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. However, this particular dagger may have yielded the deepest cut to date.

With the Windy City crew trailing 121-119 and only a second left in the contest, DeMar DeRozan was fouled while attempting a three to beat the buzzer. The All-Star forward was then his usual clutch self at the line, sinking all three free throws to give the Bulls a one-point lead with half-a-second left to play. Then… it happened.

On the ensuing possession, Jalen Johnson lobbed the inbounds over the Bulls D to rookie AJ Griffin, who spun 180 degrees mid-air and, somehow, managed to bank the cowhide globe in as time expired, sealing a 123-122 OT victory for the Hawks in the process.

As if that weren’t enough, injury was added to insult when yet another Bulls guard got nicked up. Namely, second-year man Ayo Dosunmu.

Dosunmu Exits With Abdominal Injury

Dosunmu’s injury occurred with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter when a Trae Young miss led to a transition opportunity for Chicago. After securing the rebound, DeRozan deftly found a streaking Dosunmu near mid-court. Alas, Young was able to get back in time to draw a charge on the baller’s drive attempt.

And Dosunmu landed awkwardly on top of Young on the play.

“He was grabbing his stomach,” said Bulls coach Billy Donovan when asked about the injury postgame. “He wanted to try to come back in — I don’t think the medical staff loved the way he was moving in the auxiliary gym — he wanted to give it a go. I just told him I wasn’t going to start him.”

Donovan was trying to protect both his player and his team’s chances of winning by holding Dosunmu out, but was open to bringing him back in if he could go. In the end, though, the decision was taken out of their hands.

“I thought we needed to ramp up some energy a little bit to start the second half and I just thought… trying to guard Trae Young, the next thing you know an eight-point lead [could become much bigger]… So, I just said ‘Listen, if you can play great but I’m not going to start you here in the second half and we’ll see how [the injury] does.

“Then, I think, after they met with him they were like, ‘Listen, it’s better to hold him [out]… So, that decision was made.”

The Bulls Were Already More Shorthanded Than Usual at the Point

Dosunmu was actually making his first start in five games against Atlanta. Alex Caruso — who had taken over for him as Lonzo Ball’s starting-five stand-in — was felled one night earlier against the Dallas Mavericks. In Caruso’s case, it was a bruised tailbone that resulted in the missed time.

As relayed by the Chicago Sun-Times, though, Donovan expressed confidence in the cagey vet’s ability to come back and contribute his physical brand of hoopage during upcoming bouts with the always-physical New York Knicks and Miami Heat.

“[Caruso’s] an elite defender, he’s not afraid to put his body in plays,” Donovan said of the injured baller. “He’s as good as anybody I’ve been around when you look at stat sheets and you look at points, shot attempts, and say, ‘Geez, this guy’s fingerprints are all over the game with the way he played.’”