Bulls’ fluid offense still on in preseason loss to Pelicans

There have been some minor disagreements so far in training camp regarding the Bulls’ method of attack.

Patrick Williams, for his part, talked about playing a new style of attacking without position.

Coach Billy Donovan disagreed that the offense was new. It was more about trying to get back to playing like they did at the start of last season, he said.

The Bulls took the floor for the first time on Tuesday, losing their preseason opener to New Orleans 129-125 at the United Center, despite a big rally from a group of subs led by rookie Dalen Terry in the fourth quarter.

DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points in 23 minutes, while Nikola Vucevic finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. Zach LaVine (10 points) didn’t play in the second half, and Coby White went down early with a bruised left knee.

Second-year pro Ayo Dosunmu started at point guard, replacing the injured Lonzo Ball. It may not stay that way, but Donovan said he thought veteran Goran Dragic, 36, was in a better position to come off the bench and liked the way Alex Caruso played with the ball.


At the end of last season, Donovan said he called a lot of plays from the bench to help Dosunmu, who logged long minutes as a rookie.

Now Donovan hopes the Bulls can return to the fluid style they played when Ball was on the floor at the start of last season. Williams missed most of last season with a wrist injury, so it makes sense that it feels new and different for him.

But the key to the Bulls executing that plan is for Dosunmu to be able to play like Ball does. Read the defense and react instead of looking to the sideline for a play call.

“I think it’s important that he (Dosunmu) jumps,” Donovan said ahead of Tuesday’s game. “I think it’s important for this to happen for our team. There was just a lot on Ayo’s plate (last year).”

For the first time in two seasons, the NBA locker room is open to reporters, so Dosunmu was able to share his thoughts on Donovan’s challenge.

“I talk to him a lot, I just try to have that camaraderie with the team where I’m his extension there, putting us in the right places, being a leader there and being more comfortable with the ball. to make decisions,” the South Side native said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about it, so I’m excited to take on the challenge.”

It’s hard to pass judgment on the initial preseason game, but the Bulls’ defense deserved poor marks as the hot-firing Pelicans scored 40 points and shot 69.6% from the field in the first quarter. The Bulls trailed 70-53 at halftime.

It featured New Orleans forward Zion Williamson’s first game since May 4, 2021. He missed all of last season with a foot injury. The former No. 1 overall pick followed up a dunk and a goalie in his first floor segment.

The Bulls offense recorded 8 turnovers and 4 assists in the first quarter, then started the second with a timer violation. So whatever offense they’re running, it still needs a lot of work.

“It’s not so much the plays we execute as how we clear the ground from a missed shot,” Donovan said. “How do we get the floor out of a fabricated basket, where it’s random. It requires communications, they have to help each other.

“I think (Dosunmu) has a very high quality that he can pick things up and learn from and I think he will be better from last year’s experience before this year. I feel better about that. “

Donovan also spoke about the realities of playing at a fast pace. It’s easy to credit Ball for pushing the pace, but when he and Caruso were injured, the Bulls didn’t create many turnovers and fell near the bottom of the league defensively.

“For me, it starts more defensively than offensively,” Donovan said. “If you want to play faster, stop. If you don’t get saves, you’re going to play slower. It’s just unavoidable. Most teams don’t give up shots in the six or seven first seconds of the shot clock. makes baskets.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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