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Ugly opening night for Bulls, and that would be a kind assessment

Billy Donovan’s Bulls debut obviously didn’t go well, especially on the defensive end. Bigger picture? Zach LaVine wants to start winning, not only for his own recognition but for his team. There’s a long way to go.

Lethargic. Pathetic. Embarrassing.

Pick a negative adjective to describe the Bulls’ 124-104 season-opening loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night.

There was Trae Young running down his own rebound in the second quarter with almost no resistance from the home team, then nailing a corner three. There was one possession in the third in which Young went the length of the floor as three Bulls never even bothered making it across halfcourt. Then there was a fourth-quarter missed jumper by the Hawks’ Cam Reddish, who quickly attacked the rim for the tip-in while Bulls players simply stood in the paint and watched.

Those are only three examples of a night of low-effort mishaps.

And the numbers were even uglier.

The 42 points scored by the Hawks in the first quarter were the most allowed by the Bulls on opening night in franchise history. They followed that ugly quarter up by allowing 41 in the second. By halftime, the Bulls were down 83-59, allowing the Hawks to shoot 65.9% from the field, including 10-for-20 from three-point range.

New Bulls coach Billy Donovan acknowledged his disappointment with the lack of effort, but he noticed a bigger-picture problem.

“We’ve got to get physically tougher in terms of just on the ball and having some resistance, preventing the ball from getting to the rim, then being able to close back out,’’ Donovan said. “For our guys, in that 40-point [first quarter], Atlanta played really well offensively. They made shots even though I didn’t think our defense was great. I don’t want to take away from what they did.’’

The Bulls were led by guard Zach LaVine’s 22 points, but it would be hard to convince him that his 22 even mattered.

It’s only one of 72 scheduled games, but LaVine knows the magnitude of this season and what he’s chasing. Since being drafted in 2014, LaVine has never sniffed the postseason. He knows his talents would get more recognition if he played on a team that actually played in meaningful games.

“The main thing is winning,’’ LaVine said. “Individual things come after winning. I think over the last couple of years, you know, individually I’ve been one of the better players in the NBA when you look at it. But we didn’t get the wins, so you’re not going to get the recognition for that. The main thing is winning takes care of everything. Win games. I work hard enough on my craft to think all of that will come into play.’’

It certainly didn’t on this opening night.

The one positive — which was by no means easy to sift through and find — was No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams getting the start and finishing with 16 points, four rebounds and a block.

The 19-year-old had a few defensive lapses in the first quarter, but he played with a physicality that most of his teammates didn’t bother displaying. He attacked the rim and looked for contact.

On a night in which the Bulls practiced social distancing on defense far too often, however, even acknowledging Williams’ showing fell on deaf ears with the conversation centering on the poor defense.

“We’re not this fast, explosive foot-speed team,’’ Donovan said of his defense. ‘‘I thought we didn’t have good built-in help where it needed to be, and our guys on the ball got beaten too easily.

“That’s going to require those guys making a lot of multiple efforts. I think they’re willing to do that. I just don’t think we did it particularly well.’’