Bulls lose; White talks about challenge of playing for Donovan
Several Bulls have talked about how first-year coach Billy Donovan challenges them to get better.
How exactly does that happen? Does he call someone out in the film room, pull a player off to the side at practice and jab a finger in his chest, leave pointed notes in their locker?
Guard Coby White answered that question on Friday.
"He challenges you anywhere, any moment," White said. "He's going to say whatever. But you can't ask for anything better. For me, I don't like being sugarcoated. He keeps it real. He just tells you the truth."
The truth on Saturday was the Bulls absolutely stunk against the Lakers. They trailed by 30 at halftime and lost 101-90 at the United Center, hitting a season-low for points. There were tough circumstances, since the Bulls played at Charlotte on Friday, while the Lakers had a day off after beating Milwaukee on Thursday.
But considering the Bulls were riding a three-game winning streak heading into this one, they surely hoped to be more competitive. They'll get another chance Monday against Boston, barring any COVID cancellations.
Getting back to our story, White gave a recent example of Donovan challenging him to get better.
"Like, the other day he called me out in film," White said. "It doesn't matter where you are, he's going to be honest with you, and I think everybody on the team respects that and we're all compliant toward it. We understand. He wants to be a winner. He wants us to be winners.
"And he knows what it takes to be a winner because he's won in this league. That's what I mean by we all buy in. He's a straight-up dude, and I've got a lot of respect for him just because of that. He's just straight up with you. You can't (do) anything but respect that. He definitely challenges you in all aspects of the game."
White said he was used to getting such treatment from his coaches. He's taken a big step in expectations this season now that he's the starting point guard whose job is to run the offense.
"My best coaches are the ones who get on you the most," he said. "Coach (Roy) Williams challenged me every day at UNC. And coach (Donovan) is challenging me now every day. So it doesn't really catch me by surprise. I want to be a great player in this league, and he knows that so he challenges me every day to help me reach my goal."
Like the rest of the Bulls, Saturday wasn't White's best performance.
He finished with 14 points and 4 assists. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Patrick Williams scored 13 and Lauri Markkanen had 12.
Wendell Carter Jr. missed his second-straight game with a quad bruise, with Daniel Gafford getting another start. Otto Porter, who has been nursing a sore back, sat out the second leg of the back-to-back in an effort to stay healthy.
With Porter out, Chandler Hutchison got on the court for the first time since Dec. 29 before he tested positive for COVID-19.
When the Bulls took the Lakers to the wire on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles, Chicago native Anthony Davis did not play because of an injury. The Lakers made sure the Bulls felt Davis' wrath in the rematch, as he scored a season-high 37 points. The Bulls (7-9) couldn't find their shooting touch, going 0-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half and trailing 63-33 at halftime.
The Bulls showed a little bit of life in the third quarter, getting within 14 points at one points, but the surge didn't last and the Bulls only got within 11 at the end by winning garbage time.
While they're having a little more success this season, there are bound to be plenty of learning experiences for White and the Bulls.
"This is the goal for me is to be able to lead a team in the NBA," White said. "(Donovan) definitely challenged me on both ends of the court on being a point guard. He's tough on me, but that's all you can ask for from a coach is to be tough on you and to get the best out of you.
"He believes that I can be a really good player. I'm going to take on that challenge. I'm going to keep growing, keep maintaining. I know it's going to be ups and downs, it's going to be bumps in the road, but as long as I keep growing and keep going upward that's all I can ask for."