Billy Donovan Sends Strong Message to Bulls, Motivates Mavs Win

Getty Billy Donovan

Last Friday, the Chicago Bulls had a win wrapped up against the Oklahoma City Thunder before a collapse. ESPN Stats & Info reported Chicago’s chances to win with a 10-point lead stood at 99.1% with 1 minute, 56 seconds left in regulation. What followed was a mathematical anomaly.

The Thunder closed regulation with a 10-0 run to force overtime and edged the Bulls’ 127-125. The game proved to be a low for Chicago who is learning to keep and maintain a lead after often finding itself falling behind a season ago.

Rather than moving onto the next game, coach Billy Donovan took the liberty of turning his Saturday film study not on the upcoming opponent in the Dallas Mavericks but on his own team. Donovan said he made Chicago watch the final five minutes of regulation where they relinquished what was a 16-point lead in an attempt to get through to his team “what goes into learning how to win, attention to detail and late-game execution,” NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported.

Donovan used an otherworldly metaphor to get his film session to stick.

“I always say this in life, like I’d like to go to the moon. I really would,” Donovan said. “I have no interest in doing what it takes to become an astronaut. So like, ‘I want to win!’ ‘OK, great, are you really willing to do what goes into winning?’ ”

Donovan’s study worked like a charm. The Bulls bounced back from the loss and ousted the Dallas Mavericks on the road with a resounding 117-101 victory on Sunday. And they did so in a controlled manner.

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Bulls Take Donovan’s Lesson to Heart

Chicago took a commanding lead over the Mavericks by scoring 40 points in the second quarter on Sunday — the second time the Bulls have reached 40 points in a quarter this season.

Mavericks dynamo Luca Doncic kept Dallas within reach by posting 30 points in the first half. With a 15-point lead in hand, Chicago did not rest on its laurels and persevered, never allowing the lead to fall below nine points in the final half.

“You know Dallas is going to make a run,” Donovan said, referring to a stretch where the Bulls’ lead was cut to nine midway through the third quarter. “But we responded and got it back up.”

Lauri Markkanen led the charge with 29 points in his first game back from quarantine. Garrett Temple chipped in 21 points off the bench, providing a calming veteran presence on the floor.

“Billy actually pulled us three (Temple, Young and Porter) aside during practice yesterday and talked about us being able to be the guys who can go on the court and settle down the team,” Temple said. “We have such a young starting lineup. But we have so much talent. A lot of top-10 picks, top-15 picks, and they’re guys who can actually play at that level… But that’s definitely something they brought me and Thad and Otto in for, to be that steadying influence coming off the bench doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Patrick Williams, Bulls Fare Well Against Doncic in 2nd Half

Rookie Patrick Williams continues to draw the toughest assignments on defense this season, which has come with learning lessons.

Doncic went to work early in the game with his 30 first-half points on Williams, however, the Bulls and Williams tightened up their defense on Doncic in the second half, allowing only six more points. Doncic finished with 36 points and a 16-rebound, 15-assist triple-double.

Chicago (5-8) faces the Houston Rockets on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 7 p.m. and will look to continue to climb toward a .500 record.

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