Donovan adds vets to Bulls' starting lineup in win over Toronto

  • Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (9) celebrates with guards Zach LaVine, left, Coby White and Ryan Arcidiacono after scoring a basket during the second half Sunday against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center.

    Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (9) celebrates with guards Zach LaVine, left, Coby White and Ryan Arcidiacono after scoring a basket during the second half Sunday against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center. Associated Press

Updated 3/14/2021 11:04 PM

When the Bulls opened the season with the young guys in the starting lineup and veterans coming off the bench, it was reasonable to wonder how long it could last.

The answer was until Sunday night. When the Bulls beat Toronto 118-95 at the United Center, coach Billy Donovan made the first change to the starting lineup that didn't involve an injury. Veterans Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky became starters, while center Wendell Carter Jr. and guard Coby White came off the bench.


After the game, Donovan talked about wanting to get that mix of veterans and young players on the court. The Bulls' healthy starting lineup all season has been White, Carter, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and rookie Patrick Williams.

"Our starting lineup before we subbed had the worst net rating in the league," Donovan said. "And it's not anybody's fault or any particular guy's fault. I really appreciate Coby and Wendell sacrificing for the team in terms of moving some different pieces around and maybe getting some more voices out there in terms of some veteran guys.

"That's kind of what went into the decision. It's not like those guys are out of the rotation. It's not like those guys are not important pieces to our team. They are and we need them to play well. It's more trying to get a consistent combination through 48 minutes."

Donovan has been frustrated by the lack of available playing time and stressed that this was an experiment. He suggested this particular starting lineup is open to change at any time.

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While Donovan wasn't blaming any players, Carter came off the bench for the first time in his NBA career and scored 7 points in his first 1:21 on the floor. He looked like he was more determined to make a positive impact.

The Bulls finished with 9 players in double figures, led by Williams with a career-high 22 points. LaVine scored just 15, Carter finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while White had 13 points.

Whether this lineup will help the Bulls (17-20) collect more wins is anyone's guess. They picked up their first victory after the all-star break, but not only were the Raptors missing mainstays Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, they also played Saturday in Charlotte, while the Bulls were off.

Norman Powell led Toronto (17-22) with 32 points, while Kyle Lowry scored 20 before being ejected late in the contest. The Raptors were hanging around until Denzel Valentine knocked down 3 3-pointers in 4 possessions to put the Bulls up 96-78 with 8:15 left.


Asked about player development, Donovan disagreed with the notion that moving to the bench will do anything to limit White or Carter's growth.

"I think there's some people that look at development at just throw a guy out there and let him play through all his mistakes and get better," Donovan said. "These guys need to learn how to win. The No. 1 component that goes into winning is sacrifice. And this was a situation where Coby and Wendell were put in situations to sacrifice.

"Talking to both those guys, they want to win and they'll do whatever they can to help the group win. I really admire, respect and appreciate their approach on that.

"This is good for their development, to be quite honest with you. They're going through real- life experiences that will help them grow and get better as players. I would worry about their development if I told you Coby didn't play and Wendell didn't play and we took them out of the rotation."

Bulls guard Garrett Temple missed the game due to a left ankle sprain. Donovan said he expects Temple to be out "a little bit," but wasn't ready to guess a specific time frame.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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