Chicago

Bulls go with Ayo Dosunmu as starting point guard in loss to Pelicans

Every NBA coach has an idiosyncrasy.

For Billy Donovan, it’s that he doesn’t like to reveal his starting lineups before games.

On Tuesday, Donovan finally colored outside those lines, even if it was for just one night.

Getting peppered with questions about a starting point guard now that Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery) is on the shelf for at least the next month — and likely longer — Donovan finally gave in.

“So should I give you guys one since it’s preseason?’’ Donovan said. “Then you’re not going to ask me again rest of the year?’’

And just like that, Donovan started hometown kid Ayo Dosunmu in the Bulls’ 129-125 preseason-opening loss to the Pelicans at the United Center.

“I gave you guys one,’’ he proudly declared after.

But don’t you dare ask Donovan if Dosunmu has staying power as a starter.

“I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can handle the basketball and bring it up for us and play, but, a lot of times, the point guard on a made basket is the guy bringing it up, but we’re pretty comfortable outletting the ball to anybody one through three on the perimeter and playing from there,’’ Donovan said.

Translation: We’re on a need-to-know basis, and only one game into the exhibition season, the media didn’t need to know.

Donovan did say that he could experiment with Goran Dragic, Coby White and even Alex Caruso in the remaining three preseason games but wouldn’t go much further than that.

He didn’t need to.

Donovan wanted to keep it a mystery, but it really wasn’t. Dosunmu had been getting the most run with the starters in camp the last few days, and just made the most sense. Donovan made that clear without trying to, saying that Dragic needed shortened minutes because of his age, while White and Caruso were better off the ball.

That left Dosunmu, who finished the game with 10 points and three assists.

And as it turned out, it was the least of the Bulls’ problems.

Yes, it’s the preseason, but there are still some serious issues lingering from last season, and that started with the defense, especially against athletic playoff-caliber teams.

The Pelicans starters got almost every shot they wanted in the first quarter, puttingup 40 points and doing so with very little resistance.

The other concern was that Patrick Williams was still “Passive Pat,’’ taking just seven shots and scoring five points, while the second unit brought very little to the floor collectively.

There were some bright spots, though. Nikola Vucevic had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. And DeMar DeRozan was in midseason form with 21 points and 12 trips to the free throw line.

As for Dosunmu, he made it clear that he wants to do some of the things Ball does, but also play his own game.

“Last year helped me a lot,’’ Dosunmu said. “There’s a balance of understanding when to shoot and when to play-make, and that comes down to experience, understanding the moment. I have a better ability to assess that now, just with me going through the wars, going through some battles last season, watching a lot of film. That’s the best thing about experience, the best thing about learning.’’



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