Billy Donovan doesn’t want the Bulls to just forget about a forgettable night vs Pacers


CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 22: Chicago Bulls Guard Zach LaVine (8) Chicago Bulls Guard Lonzo Ball (2) and Chicago Bulls Head coach Billy Donavon look on during a NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls on November 22, 2021 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – There are a lot of reasons why they had a very rare dud early in a season where there’s been more enthusiasm around the team in a half-decade.

Following a five-game road trip, the Bulls were playing the Pacers less than 24 hours after beating the Knicks in a competitive contest at the United Center. Indiana was coming off a victory in their second of a back-to-back on Saturday and had the benefit of a day off before the contest.

Either way, it was a very bad night for the Bulls, one in which they trailed from start to finish in a 32-point loss to the Pacers that’s the worst of their young season. A physical Indiana team outrebounded the Bulls by 21, including by six on the offensive glass, while holding the hosts to just 36.5 percent shooting from the floor.

The question becomes how Billy Donovan looks at a loss like this, which is a rare dud in a 12-6 start to the season where only two defeats were by double-digits. It could be easy to blow it off as a bad night, but the head coach wasn’t going to dismiss the defeat that easily.

I”‘ve never been a big believer of ‘Oh, just flush the game, it didn’t happen.’ No, it did happen, that’s exactly what happened, and we’ve got to won it, coaches, players, everybody,” said Donovan when he asked about processing the loss. “I don’t think that’s who are team has been over this early part of this stretch. These guys have been really resilient and worked. We didn’t play great, and maybe we didn’t play great because Indiana played well, Indiana maybe forced us into not playing great.

“But how do we make that next step to get better from this and over an 82-game schedule, night’s like this happen, it does happen, but if it catapults us going forward to make us better, then OK, great. But if it’s not something that helps us, then I think it’s a missed opportunity.”

The chance to see if that’s the case comes in Houston on Wednesday for the Bulls’ pre-Thanksgiving contest against the Rockets. After the Bulls were beaten by 26 by the Warriors to start their five-game Western Conference road trip, they rallied to win three of their next four games, and doing that again would be important.

“We can’t get it back, right? We’re not getting the game back, but there is a standard and expectation we expect to play to and certainly, tonight was not that,” said Donovan. “I’m not taking anything away from Indiana. I mean they played very, very well,” said Donovan. “They had an interesting game against Charlotte and came back and played really well against New Orleans and played very well tonight. They’ve played well. I don’t want to make it seem like we didn’t do anything and it was all us. They played well on both ends of the floor.

“But I do think what we learn from this and how we respond to this is really important. Because we can talk about all the things that happened tonight, but the reality is we’re jumping on a plane tomorrow and going to Houston. So how do we get from here to there in terms of becoming a better team. That’s the way I would look at it.”

He’ll get to see what transpires soon enough after a rare forgettable night this season.

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