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Bulls coach Billy Donovan hopes his players start trusting the process

For years, the core of this group hasn’t been pushed into putting in the extra work needed to become winners. That mentality is over now, and coach Billy Donovan hopes the players can take that next step.

Bulls guard Coby White handles the ball as Dallas Mavericks guard Trey Burke defends during Sunday’s game.
Bulls guard Coby White handles the ball as Dallas Mavericks guard Trey Burke defends during Sunday’s game.
Ron Jenkins/AP

The Bulls needed a practice day such as the one they had Saturday in Dallas.

Coach Billy Donovan delivered some tough love, but he didn’t hand out any push-ups or order any suicide sprints.

Real NBA coaching.

And as the Bulls’ 117-101 victory Sunday against the Mavericks showed, Donovan’s message had some staying power.

‘‘A lot of film, a lot of bad plays that we had,’’ Bulls point guard Coby White said of the workout. ‘‘But it was more of just a teaching day and getting everybody on the same page of what we need to do to take that next step. As a team, I think we are really frustrated and getting tired of saying, ‘We’re right there, we’re right there.’ We want to say, ‘We’re finally getting over that hump.’ ’’

After the Bulls’ second-half meltdown in their overtime loss Friday to the Thunder in Oklahoma City, it was a hump that seemed to be growing daily.

That’s why Donovan let the film tell the story.

‘‘I feel like we took a step without actually doing stuff physically,’’ White said. ‘‘I feel like [Friday] night hurt us all as a team. I’m pretty sure none of us wants that feeling again. I’m pretty sure we’re going to learn from it. Well, I’m definitely sure we’re going to learn from it and take that next step that we need to take.’’

Donovan, however, has made it clear the Bulls still have a long way to go. Understanding mistakes and how to fix them is one thing, but Donovan wants to see them get to the point where they work on improving areas that aren’t necessarily going to show up on film.

‘‘I do sense from the group that there’s a willingness [to win], but there’s so much more they have to do outside of what takes place in between the lines,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘They’ve got to invest in each other. They’ve got to spend time after practice with each other in terms of, like: ‘Hey, Zach [LaVine] and Lauri [Markkanen], let’s work on some pick-and-rolls.’ ‘Hey, Coby, you had some turnovers in pick-and-roll with [Otto Porter]. Let’s get out there and do that, work together.’

‘‘There’s a lot of things they have to invest in that’s probably a little bit different than maybe they’ve had to experience in the past, but that’s what I’m trying to work them toward is getting them to see some of those things. Sometimes you have to go through some painful lessons before you can take another step forward.’’

Health club

Donovan said he hopes to have some clarity about the returns of forward Chandler Hutchison and guard Tomas Satoransky this week. The good news is that both are doing individual workouts at the Advocate Center as they work their way back from testing positive for the coronavirus.

‘‘They’ve gotten some good work in; they’ve gone through some of the cardiovascular testing programs,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘We’ll probably be able to find out a lot more at the end of this upcoming week to see where they’re at. But things have progressed well, and they are back working out.’’