Bulls coach Billy Donovan uses Thursday to start repairing the damage
The opening-night loss to the Hawks was embarrassing on many levels, and while the problems with this roster are many, Donovan is hoping for a quick fix.
The beatdown took place for 48 minutes Wednesday.
The apology tour started soon after.
Center Wendell Carter Jr. was frank about his shortcomings in the Bulls’ season-opening, 20-point loss to the Hawks at the United Center, but a long line of his teammates should have followed.
‘‘I wouldn’t necessarily call it a wake-up call,’’ Carter said after the game. ‘‘It’s reality. [Bleep], we’ve gotta come and play, and we didn’t come to play on both ends. A lot of us got inside of our own heads, including myself, worrying about the stuff that happened rather than worrying about the moment.
‘‘Just kind of speaking for myself, I’ve just got to do better. . . . I just talked to my teammates, apologized for my effort that I showed and I will be better for my team.’’
Accountability can be a powerful thing, but now there has to be substance behind it.
After a Christmas Eve practice, however, the bigger concern was whether there can be a quick fix by Saturday, when the Bulls host the Pacers.
‘‘I just didn’t show effort,’’ Carter said. ‘‘I felt myself just being a step slow. I felt myself just worrying about the wrong things. This league is a game of runs. There’s too many good players in this league [for there] not to be runs, so I feel like for myself — and I can only speak for myself — I’ve got to learn that is going to happen.
‘‘How are we gonna react to it? How are we going to come back from them making three or four baskets in a row? Are we going to finally get a stop and go down and get a good shot for ourselves? Or are we going to get internal and worry about our own stuff? That’s something I need to work on, and I feel like that’s something that could be a quick fix in terms of the next game.’’
It’s one of many that needs to take place.
Obviously, the defense was a mess. There were too many times when the Bulls didn’t want to make multiple efforts to help get a stop.
Coach Billy Donovan beat that point to death, but he also put it on the shoulders of his players to take responsibility for it, especially in terms of physicality.
‘‘We’re not the most athletic, we’re not the fastest, we’re not the strongest, but we’ve got to be able to get in there and be able to protect the basket as a group,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘We’ve got to go in there and protect the rim in transition as a group. When we get hit, we’ve gotta fight to get over screens. When someone is hung up, we’ve gotta be able to help. When someone gets driven and the ball is going to the basket, we’ve gotta be able to help. They have to do it together.’’
The other concern in the debacle was the play of second-year point guard Coby White, who shot 2-for-11 from the field and scored nine points while watching Hawks counterpart Trae Young put up 37.
More disturbing, however, was White’s lack of decision-making and communication.
‘‘As I was trying to explain to [White] during the course of the game, we’re coming down the floor, and guys don’t know necessarily what we’re in at that moment in time,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think that’s part of his learning curve. Coby has to play well for us to play well.’’
White got the message, but now he must execute.
‘‘I think I’ve got to get us more organized on the offensive end,’’ White said. ‘‘Got to lead us more.’’