Billy Donovan was once again reminded on Monday that the new norm can be a cruel punch to the gut.
The latest connected a few hours before the game with the Denver Nuggets at the United Center, as Donovan and his players found out that they would be without DeMar DeRozan for at least one game, and possibly more, with the veteran forward going into the health and safety protocol.
The head-scratcher with DeRozan, however, was if he was positive for the coronavirus or a false positive flagged him?
Even Donovan couldn’t answer that.
“I know there’s probably a lot more questions about is he positive, is he negative – I don’t even know yet,’’ Donovan said. “This is obviously coming from the league and we’ll probably have more information going forward. This just transpired [Monday] afternoon, so I cannot really confirm and/or deny if it’s a false positive, or is positive. I just don’t know right now. And obviously the medical staff works through the league on that and they come up with the guidelines to which he’s gotta follow, and I think we’ll be able to have maybe hopefully more news one way or another in the next day or so.’’
What will be tough for anyone with the organization to answer, however, was what exactly was going on?
The Bulls have been front and center in getting vaccinated, but now have three players currently in the protocol, with DeRozan – an MVP candidate this season – joining Javonte Green and Coby White.
Nikola Vucevic tested positive last month, and even TV analyst Stacey King was currently in the protocol.
“I think what we’re all going through, it’s just the way it is,’’ Donovan said. “No one has ever said, ‘Hey if you get vaccinated you’re not gonna get COVID.’ I think that’s pretty much played itself out for a lot of people.’’
On top of all the protocol drama, the Bulls still had a game to play, and play they did, beating an also undermanned Nuggets team 109-97.
Call it a complete flexing of Bulls depth.
With DeRozan missing, Donovan turned to a starting five of Zach LaVine, Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Derrick Jones Jr., and rookie Ayo Dosunmu.
The first time that group obviously started a game this season, and it showed.
The Bulls quickly got a look at life without DeRozan, and it wasn’t one filled with a lot of happiness.
By the time the horn sounded at the end of the first, the visiting team was up 27-18, and those weren’t even the ugliest numbers glaring at the Bulls.
The home team went 8-for-24 (33.3%) from the field, shot 2-for-11 (18.2%) from three, and didn’t get to the free throw line once.
Then Ball happened.
With LaVine looking for help on the offensive end, Ball stepped up and scored nine second quarter points, and had 14 for the half, including three three-pointers.
That cut the deficit to just three as the two teams entered the locker room, and set the stage for the barrage in the second half. LaVine scored 12 in the third to give the Bulls the six-point lead, and then they blew the doors off the Nuggets (11-12) in the fourth, dropping 32 points on them to close the game out.
Not only did Jones (12 points) and Dosunmu (11 points) play well as starters, but Troy Brown Jr., Tony Bradley, and seldom-used Matt Thomas each had moments and key minutes.
“He’s a great guy to coach,’’ Donovan said of Dosunmu getting the start. “It’s gotta be an incredible experience for him growing up in Chicago.’’
“Me getting this opportunity, I just wanted to seize it,’’ Dosunmu said. “I pride myself on being a two-way player, and being able to show it here against a great team.’’
Source by chicago.suntimes.com