CHICAGO – Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine said he and coach Billy Donovan are “fine” and he doesn’t want to blow up a game after LaVine disagreed with not playing down the stretch of Chicago’s loss. Friday 108-107 against the Orlando Magic.
LaVine, a two-time All-Star, scored four points on 1-for-14 shooting Friday before being benched for the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds as Chicago lost its fourth straight game. LaVine expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision that night, but cleared the air with Donovan in practice the next day.
“I just told him that I feel like I’ve earned the right to go out there and try to play a bad game,” LaVine said after practice Sunday. “His decision was to try to do what’s best for the team, which I respect. If we won, obviously, I would have been ecstatic. We lost, I wasn’t. I had a terrible game.”
“But it’s a game, man. I don’t want to hype this to the point where we’re talking about one loss, where we’ve had multiple losses this year. We’ve got a lot of games left this year. We’re all good. I think you understand where I’m coming from and I understand that His decision as a coach that he has to make is a difficult one, even if his players don’t agree with it.”
Donovan said he had no problem with LaVine, who signed a five-year, $215 million max contract in the offseason, wanting to be on the court during the critical moment, but he stood by his resolve to do what he felt was necessary to try to win. win the game on friday.
“I totally understand his competitiveness and his desire to win and be there,” Donovan said Sunday. “It should. I think all the great players want to be able to do that.”
“I felt at that moment that it was the best thing for the team. And I think he knows that I will always try to put the team first and do what is best for the team. I also respect him from the point of view, his opinion, he thought I needed to be there outside, that was the best thing for the team”.
After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Bulls came back to take the lead in the fourth quarter with LaVine on the bench. He hadn’t scored that few points since March 2018, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, and this was the worst shooting game of his career (minimum 10 shots).
However, in the dying seconds of the game, Bulls center Nikola Vucevic missed a pair of free throws that would have sealed the win and allowed Magic guard Jalen Suggs to hit the game-winning three-pointer.
“That second unit, the other guys he brought in, they did a great job getting back into the game and it was a very winnable situation,” LaVine said. “Said [Donovan] at least bring me for the free throws. I think he could have helped at least seal the game with free kicks and help put the ball in bounds. I’m one of the best players on the court, regardless of who’s playing, and I think I should be on the court at the critical moment, and that’s the mentality I have.”
Donovan said he understood LaVine’s point of view on the late-game free throw situation, though he wasn’t sure if it would have made any difference considering Vucevic is shooting a career-high 87.8% from the line. , this season.
Still, both Donovan and LaVine touted the strength of their relationship and frequent communication with each other as they tried to move on from this incident.
“Anytime you’re in a very, very competitive environment, there’s always going to be frustrations or disappointments or people getting upset,” Donovan said. “But I always feel like I can tell Zach anything and I think he can tell me anything.”
LaVine added: “Billy and I have a good relationship. We talk all the time. I think he understands, we’re grown men, it’s a grown man thing. There are going to be awkward days. Just like in any sport or any business, you’re not going to agree with every decision that’s made. So you talk about it, walk away, and understand where the other side is coming from.”