The Chicago Bulls had a tough night on Friday, losing their fourth-straight game to the Orlando Magic on the game-winning shot by Magic’s Jalen Suggs with 4.1 seconds remaining.
Speaking of having a tough night, Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine scored just four points on 1-of-14 shooting from the field, his worst single-game performance of his career.
Due to LaVine’s struggles on Friday, Bulls coach Billy Donovan made the decision to bench him in the final four minutes of the game as Chicago had fought back in the game before falling short in the final moments.
“I came back to Zach and it was one of those games for him. He just didn’t have a great game,” Donovan said postgame. “Great players, it happens. He cares deeply about the team. He just wasn’t playing well.”
Donovan opted to run with a lineup of Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green, and Nikola Vucevic down the stretch, who had cut the Magic’s double-digit lead to single digits.
“That’s my job and my responsibility. I thought that was the best decision at the time,” Donovan said. “To me, I don’t look at it as anything else other than a one-off game. I know he wanted to be out there. There probably aren’t very many games in his career that he hasn’t been out there in those minutes. But that group was playing well.”
LaVine was visibly bothered with Donovan’s decision when speaking to the media postgame, saying that despite his struggles, ‘you play a guy like me down the stretch.’
For Donovan, as tough of a decision as it is to bench one of your best players, he felt it was necessary for the team.
“I’m sure he’s really disappointed,” Donovan said of LaVine. “The ramifications of him not being out there, to me, I was trying to do what was best for our team in that moment.”