Billy Donovan, Zach LaVine disagree with jump ball call in Blazers loss

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Rob Schaefer
·4 min read
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Donovan, LaVine disagree with jump ball call in Blazers loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

There were 11.5 seconds to play in the Bulls' Saturday night matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and the outcome looked all but decided.

The Bulls led 122-117, aided by two Coby White free throws. The Trail Blazers had just used their final timeout to advance the ball past midcourt.

Again, 11.5 seconds left to play.

What ensued was one of the most mind-bending finishes to a game you'll see. With 8.9 seconds remaining, Damian Lillard sank a 37-foot 3-pointer over Coby White to pull Portland within 122-120. Thad Young then quickly completed an inbounds pass to Zach LaVine, which, after Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood swarmed the ball, resulted in a whistle and jump ball call at the 6.2-second mark.

That jump ball ricocheted to Robert Covington, who shoveled to Lillard, who canned an impossible fadeaway 3 to win the game at the buzzer with Lauri Markkanen draped over him like a cape:

How does such a sequence come to pass? Here's the anatomy:

The Jump Ball Call

"I thought it was a very, very quick jump ball call in that situation," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said after the game, later adding: "It was about as quick of a jump ball as I've ever seen, and you can't challenge that. I didn't think it was really a good call at that point in time. Like I get tie-ups but they just kind of like grabbed the ball and then she (referee Dannica Mosher) just called jump ball."

"It was a quick whistle," LaVine concurred. "There’s a lot of things you can’t control. But it happened. I didn’t think it was a jump ball. I didn’t think they had their hands on the ball. But it was called. So that’s the way the game goes."

Both, of course, also emphasized that the Bulls shouldn't have been in that circumstance to begin with. "We've gotta be stronger in those situations," Donovan said.

But the Bulls coach added that he regretted not calling for the team's final timeout after Lillard's first made 3.

"I saw the ball get inbounded to Zach. I thought we were in pretty good shape," Donovan said. "But obviously from my perspective, that’s probably one (timeout) I would have liked to have used.

"We got it to Zach. Hindsight, I probably should have called a timeout. I probably should have done that. I feel bad about that. Who knows what would have happened on the inbound, being out of timeouts? You never know... We got it to Zach, who’s a great free throw shooter. But obviously, looking at the outcome, I would have liked to have used a timeout."

Donovan even said he re-watched the play before speaking to reporters. He praised Thad Young for getting the ball in cleanly and said he thought the pass found LaVine in a decent spot on the floor.

"I've learned in those situations a lot of things can happen. I can call timeout and we can advance the ball and then not get it in and it be a five-second count. We could turn the ball over. A lot of things could happen," Donovan said. "And for me, we got it into Zach. I felt good about it. We obviously turned it over. We had a jump ball. It didn't end well."

The Shot

Donovan also opined the Bulls not jumping on the loose ball that the eventual jump ball yielded. There was a split second where possession hung in the balance.

Ultimately, the rock careened to Lillard, and he redirected it into the nylon.

"He’s one of the few players in the league who can make that shot consistently. He’s a heck of a player," said Lauri Markkanen, who contested the jumper. "I thought I jumped before and had both of my arms."

Donovan centered the focus on his side.

"I've got all the respect in the world for him as a player. It's way, way more about us. It's nothing to do with him. We put him in those situations," Donovan said. "We get the ball inbounded, we get fouled, we make two free throws, even if he throws one in there's six seconds to go, there's obviously not enough time to go the length of the floor.

"Give him credit. They were great shots. And like I've said before I've got great respect and admiration for him. But for me, as I look at it, it was less about him and more about us."

Whatever the reason, the result was stunning. Now, the Bulls will look to bounce back after the latest in a line of gut-wrenching, late game defeats.

"I’ve said this before, sometimes the losing is painful with some of the ways we’ve lost, when you think about Oklahoma City, you think about Golden State, you think about this one," Donovan said. "We need to learn and grow from it and get better from it."

RELATED: Bulls must prove bounceback mentality after latest crushing defeat

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