Donovan's postgame comments sound like cry for help after Bulls lose to Cavs

The name Russell Westbrook never came up in Billy Donovan's postgame news conference on Saturday. Technically, Westbrook is still under contract with the Utah Jazz, so Donovan can't talk about adding him to the Bulls roster after a buyout becomes official.

But it sure sounded like Donovan was asking for help after the Bulls delivered another miserable fourth quarter in a 97-89 loss at Cleveland. While losing all three games on their road trip, the Bulls were outscored by combined 97-50 in the fourth quarter.

"There's situations where DeMar (DeRozan) and Zach (LaVine), they get a lot of attention and they're unselfish and they'll get off of (the ball)," Donovan told reporters. "Sometimes us being able to make that next extra play is where sometimes we fall short.

"I think when you get so predictable with Zach and DeMar every time down the floor, it becomes easier to guard and the rest of the group's not involved. There are moments in their greatness where they can save the day, that could happen. But we've got to do it collectively."

Multiple NBA insiders suggested Westbrook is leaning toward joining the Bulls, where he could reunite with Donovan, who coached him for four years in Oklahoma City.

Coming off a disappointing stint with the Lakers, maybe Westbrook isn't the ideal choice. But who else is willing to give it a try with the Bulls right now?

The Bulls (26-30) got a nice handout from the schedule-maker, since the Cavaliers had to fly home early Saturday morning after playing in New Orleans. But Cleveland is the league's best defensive team and was able to shut off the Bulls offense when it mattered.

The Bulls' lead peaked at 13 points early in the second half and they were up 69-58 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. But the script flipped quickly as the Bulls missed eight of their next nine shots and Cleveland went ahead 76-74 with 9:54 left on a 3-pointer by Donovan Mitchell (29 points).

The Bulls have been searching for consistent contributions from the supporting cast, and they got it at times in this game. Patrick Williams started out hot, with 9 points in the fourth quarter, then finished with 13 and 4 steals.

Ayo Dosunmu collected a season-high 8 assists. One of the Bulls' best highlights happened late in the second quarter when Coby White blocked a dunk attempt by Isaac Okoro, then Dosunmu hit a layup to put the Bulls up by 10. But when the Bulls needed points, White didn't deliver. He's gone 2-for-18 from 3-point range in the last four games.

Donovan mentioned the Bulls' reliance on young players during his postgame comments.

"It's a great learning experience for Patrick being in the role he is and taking on the responsibility he has," Donovan said. "Ayo, playing the point guard position as a young guy and learning and growing in that position.

"I think the experience in certain situations, the experienced IQ plays, sometimes we're short on those. When we have to understand time, score, possessions. I see they have to get better in those basketball moments. I think a lot of it is them learning how to stop bleeding."

But it's not all on the young guys. Donovan pointed to a sequence in the final minute of the third quarter when Andre Drummond missed a dunk, then Alex Caruso needlessly reached in and fouled Darius Garland with 0.7 seconds on the clock. The plays didn't happen back-to-back, but added up to a 4-point swing.

The Bulls return home to face Orlando on Monday, while Westbrook may wait until next week's all-star break to decide on a new home. Miami and the Clippers are also thought to be under consideration.

LaVine led the Bulls with 23 points and Nikola Vucevic had 14 rebounds. But the Bulls set a season-high with 23 turnovers.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

As Bulls complaints rise, can NBA fix system of replay reviews?

Drummond leads strong finish as Bulls beat Spurs

Without DeRozan, Bulls can't hold late lead at Memphis

Is a Westbrook-Donovan reunion with Bulls possible?

Bulls at trade deadline: Road to improvement is out there somewhere

Bulls stay intact, then fall flat in loss to Nets

Plenty of talk, Karnisovas says, but no trades for Bulls at the deadline

Tired: Complaining about no trades; Wired: Welcoming Westbrook

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) shoots against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) and guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) during the second half of Saturday's loss. Associated Press
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.