Bulls’ loss to 76ers means no All-Star Game for coach Billy Donovan
It was pretty simple Sunday: Win and Donovan was in. But in losing to the 76ers, the Bulls were leapfrogged by the Heat in the conference standings, which meant Erik Spoelstra would be the All-Star coach from the East.
Coach Billy Donovan’s schedule for All-Star Weekend just cleared up.
Thanks to the Heat’s victory Saturday and the Bulls’ 119-108 loss Sunday to the 76ers, Donovan is no longer in line to coach the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game on Feb. 20. That honor now will go to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
‘‘I definitely do now,’’ a laughing Donovan said after the game when he was reminded he had a weekend off. ‘‘That’s over and done with.’’
The concerns about this short-handed Bulls team, however, are far from over and done with.
The Bulls again were without Zach LaVine (back) and Coby White (groin), in addition to the four players — Lonzo Ball (knee surgery), Alex Caruso (wrist surgery), Derrick Jones Jr. (broken finger) and Patrick Williams (wrist surgery) — who have been out for a while.
Not that the 76ers have been overly impressed with whomever the Bulls have rolled out against them this season. The 76ers are 3-0 in the season series so far, and this matchup allowed them to exploit some of the Bulls’ weaknesses.
The 76ers outshot the Bulls from three-point range, going 12-for-24 (50%) compared with 7-for-26 (26.9%), and were more physical, especially in the high-pick-and-roll game.
To the Bulls’ credit, they handled that set better in the second half. But it still exposed the lack of options they can throw at a player such as 76ers center Joel Embiid, who finished with 40 points and 10 rebounds.
‘‘I feel like we need to set the tone rather than letting them hit first,’’ Bulls forward Javonte Green said of the mentality that was lacking early. ‘‘We made that adjustment at halftime, and I feel like it was improved in the second half.’’
It wasn’t enough to get Donovan and his staff a trip to Cleveland for All-Star Weekend, but don’t blame forward DeMar DeRozan for that.
All he did was remind his teammates of what was at stake for Donovan before the game, then go out and score a season-high 45 points to go with nine rebounds and seven assists.
‘‘I knew about it,’’ DeRozan said when he was asked whether he knew what was on the line for his coaches. ‘‘Brought it up to the guys. It would have been special; those guys deserved it.
‘‘I told Billy [near] the end of the game that I was going to try and do my best to get this game for him because I would have loved to see those guys have that opportunity. Those opportunities don’t come around often. We just fell short of it. It sucks, but we just have to keep on pushing.’’
And pushing with this group of players.
DeRozan made it clear he doesn’t want the front office to go out and add players at the trade deadline. Even on the day the Central Division rival Cavaliers went out and acquired Caris LeVert from the Pacers, DeRozan was looking to stand pat and be patient with the Bulls’ injured players.
‘‘We’re missing Lonzo Ball, one of the top point guards in the league,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘Alex Caruso, one of the best defenders in this league. Patrick Williams, one of the young stars in this league. We haven’t had those guys. And they’ll be back. We don’t need to worry or stress about having nobody else. Those three right there, I guarantee every team in this NBA wished they had those three guys. We’ll be fine.’’
When asked directly if he wanted the front office to stand pat, DeRozan responded: ‘‘Yeah. Only [the media] talk about that. We don’t talk about it.’’