CHICAGO – Nothing like cramming a month’s work of frustrating and heartbreak into just three games, but that’s how a new era of Bulls basketball has begun.
Many didn’t expect it to be easy as Billy Donovan takes over a team that was built by another regime and teaches them a new way to play. But the first contests have shown just how much work is to be done with this group from now till the end of this unique 72-game season.
Of course, there is a crushing buzzer-beater in their, too.
Warriors guard Damion Lee’s three-pointer with just over a second left erased what would have been a game-winning shot by Zach LaVine a few seconds earlier, handing the Bulls a 129-128 loss.
It came as the team finally was able to hang with their opponent for a full 48 minutes, something they failed to do in their two opening games. Yet again, despite a much improved effort, it just wasn’t enough.
“I guess you’ve got to go through some trials and tribulations to get to where you’re going,” said LaVine of the rough start. “Nothing’s ever easy, so we’ve just got to be ready. I don’t think anyone cares if we played better. Opponents are going to come in and try to beat us, so we’ve got to be ready from the get-go like we were today.”
That wasn’t really the case in their first two contents, where the Bulls were little match for two teams above them in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks never really let the Bulls up for air in the opener, leading by 13 points after a quarter, 24 at the break, and then 40 points in the third quarter before letting up a bit in the 20-point win.
On Saturday, the Bulls actually led after a quarter against the Pacers, but that’s as far as the positivity went. A 21-0 run happened in the second quarter then an 18-0 run to start the third quarter produced another blowout at the hands of Indiana.
So that’s why Sunday’s effort against a team like the Warriors, who are battling through their own issues to start the season, is a little more encouraging to Donovan. The Bulls responded well to a few lulls during the game and rolled with the punches all the way till the end, even as the Warriors delivered the knockout blow.
Yet the result is something Donovan doesn’t want his team to forget, painful as it might be, as they continue to grow in this season of discovery for the franchise.
“I think the losing’s really got to hurt them, and I mean that in a healthy way,” said Donovan. “Because they put a lot into it I though tonight. I think the things we tried to address coming out of the Indiana game when we had those turnovers and we just kinda wilted; the same thing happened tonight, we responded a lot better which I thought was a step in the right direction.”
Even if the results were not in a painful start to the 2020-2021 season.