Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu shows he’ll run through walls — or anything else
One night after having ball-security issues in an overtime loss to the Raptors, Dosunmu made one of the best plays of his rookie campaign.
Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu went into the Bulls’ game Friday against the Pacers in Indianapolis ready to ‘‘go through a wall.’’
Meet the Pacers’ Terry Taylor and Oshae Brissett, a k a ‘‘the wall.’’
To be fair, Dosunmu didn’t exactly go through them. He went through them and over them in one of the nastier dunks of the season for a Bulls player.
And it wasn’t just that the dunk was awe-inspiring; it also was when it happened.
The undermanned Pacers had clawed their way back into a game they had no business being in and trailed by only three after Justin Holiday made a three-pointer with 36.4 seconds left.
Coach Billy Donovan called a timeout with 27.4 seconds to play after the Bulls got the ball over the half-court line and went back to a play he was running earlier in the game for veteran forward DeMar DeRozan before the Pacers started double-teaming him.
This time, however, he put the ball in the hands of Dosunmu and gave him the option of passing it to DeRozan if he wasn’t double-teamed or continuing to the rim.
Why Dosunmu? Rewind to 24 hours earlier.
Dosunmu has put up very few clunkers since taking over as the Bulls’ starting point guard with Lonzo Ball (knee surgery) sidelined. But he shot only 5-for-12 and committed a couple of costly turnovers in the Bulls’ overtime loss Thursday to the Raptors in Toronto.
With the Bulls trailing by two and 56.6 seconds left in overtime, Dosunmu made a horrible pass that the Raptors’ Chris Boucher nabbed. Twenty seconds later, a second bad pass resulted in a steal by the Raptors’ Gary Trent Jr. The Bulls didn’t score again and lost by seven.
Donovan wanted to have a quick heart-to-heart with Dosunmu, but he waited until Friday morning.
‘‘After the loss, I didn’t talk to Coach until morning,’’ Dosunmu said. ‘‘And it was like one of those times when you get in trouble in school and you don’t know how your parents are going to react. So he called me [Friday] morning, and he was like, ‘Ayo, I want to talk to you.’ I was thinking he was going to be upset, of course.’’
Seldom is Donovan upset and even more seldom is he upset with Dosunmu, but rookies will be rookies.
‘‘[Donovan] came to me and asked, ‘Ayo, what did you learn from yesterday?’ ’’ Dosunmu said. ‘‘I told him that [what I learned was] picking up my dribble on the baseline and having better court awareness in the game. And he was like, ‘Cool, you got it!’ I was like, ‘That’s it?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah.’ ’’
Not only did the exchange give Dosunmu a better understanding about how Donovan works, but it was the kind of coaching that inspired him.
For a guy who has shown an ability to learn quickly and stay confident, it was just another green light in his evolution.
‘‘That exchange right there, that just makes me want to come out here and go through a wall for [Donovan] and compete for him because I know he believes in me,’’ Dosunmu said.
So do the rest of the players in the locker room.
‘‘A really, really great play,’’ center Nikola Vucevic said of Dosunmu’s dunk. ‘‘Makes that big play at the end, it just shows his character and the poise he plays with.’’
And, when the occasion calls for it, the walls he’ll run through.