Bulls Coach Left Utterly Perplexed by the Referees

Billy Donovan Bulls


Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan looks on during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Although the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and the Chicago Bulls have a lot to be thankful for at the moment, it has been a particularly rough week for the team. Just two days after suffering one of their worst losses in years at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls were gut-punched on Wednesday.

For their latest contest, Billy Donovan’s crew was in Houston for a potential breezer against the then one-win Rockets. But instead of righting the ship after the Pacers debacle, the Bulls allowed Houston to knock down 17 three-point shots en route to a 118-113 win.

A lot of things went wrong for the Bulls, especially during a third quarter that saw the Rockets outscore them 35-18. “We just came out and kind of messed around with the game, and before you know it, we’re down by 10 after being up by 10,” Donovan later said.

However, the Bulls coach was also taken aback by the officiating during the contest. So much so that he left the door open for a hefty fine from the NBA with his post-game commentary on the matter.

Donovan Loses Key Challenge

With just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Bulls down by five at 99-94, Lonzo Ball hit pay dirt on a triple but had it taken away by the officials, who whistled him for an offensive foul. The league has been cracking down on players who make unnatural moves to draw contact, and this one apparently fit the bill.

However, Ball appeared to have simply fallen down on the play. Then, as the Bulls’ floor general sat on the court, Kevin Porter of the Rockets stumbled over him.

Donovan challenged the call, but it was upheld after review, and the coach subsequently found himself perplexed by what had transpired.

“The call made zero sense to me,” he said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “Now, I’m not saying it made zero sense to me because I don’t agree with what they said. The way they explained it to me, and what I was able to see [on video playback], did not make sense. So if I can get a different camera view, I can maybe understand what they’re talking about.”

He added, “It seemed so far-fetched about what they were telling me, it just didn’t make sense to me. And I’m not sitting there saying they were wrong on it, they’re obviously looking at it and reviewing it. But I really don’t know how you make a call like that based on what I saw.”

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The Play That Sealed Their Fate?

Although the Bulls’ own defensive shortcomings in the game loomed largely, there’s no doubting that the Ball foul was a killer. Had his bucket counted, Houston’s lead would have been cut to two points (or less with an and-one) and it’s suddenly anyone’s game.

Instead, the foul happened and Danuel House nailed a three on the next Rockets possession to make it an eight-point advantage.

“It was such a big play in the game, that’s why I challenged it,” said Donovan. “I lost the timeout, but I figured it was three points, potentially four if they would’ve reviewed it and he [Ball] would have been fouled. If it was a four-point play, it would have cut the lead to one.”


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