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Billy Donovan – Chicago Bulls want to win but ‘don’t know how to’

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After losing multiple double-digit leads throughout the game to eventually fall 127-125 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan put it bluntly: His young team hasn’t figured out how to win yet.

“This is a hard-working group. It’s a good group of guys. They want to win,” Donovan said. “They don’t know how to. They are learning how to.”

With a fourth consecutive loss, the Bulls dropped to 4-8 on the season. Turnovers have become a trend, with 24 against the Thunder. Guard Zach LaVine was sensational in scoring 35 points, hitting 8-of-14 from 3-point range, but he turned it over six times.

“It’s the same thing for us,” Donovan said. “Until we find a way to take care of the basketball, it’s so hard to win at this level when you’re turning the ball over at the rate we turn it over.

“A lot of it is self-induced,” Donovan said. “I thought it was all on us.”

The Bulls led by 22 in the third quarter, by 16 with 4 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the fourth and by 10 with 1:56 remaining in regulation. The Bulls went scoreless in the final two minutes, turning the ball over three times (two offensive fouls) and missing the only two shots they attempted, including a potential game-winning attempt by LaVine with 0.9 seconds left.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, before the Bulls’ loss Friday night, teams were 1-2,930 when trailing by 10 or more points in the final two minutes of regulation over the past five seasons. The only other win was by the Kings on Jan. 27, 2020.

“I think we’re all at a lot for words on how we played and how we ended the game,” a frustrated LaVine said. “We just folded. We straight up folded.”

The Bulls have shown positive signs of progression after a slow start, bouncing back to win four out of five before this losing streak. But in their past four games, they’ve allowed at least 115 points in all of them, losing all by four points or fewer.

“I think we’ve just got to learn how to win,” forward Lauri Markkanen said.

The four-game losing streak comes at the same time LaVine is on an offensive roll, becoming the first Bull to have four consecutive 30-point games while shooting 50% or better from the floor since Michael Jordan did it in five straight games in 1996.

“You gotta learn how to win a basketball game when you’re up by 20,” LaVine said.

It wasn’t enough, though, to hold off the Thunder, who were sparked by a career-high 33 points by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on impressive 13-of-19 shooting, plus 10 assists. Guard Lu Dort added 21, and he was a big part of the Bulls’ turnover issues, forcing six.

“It is really hard to win in this league if you don’t do three things: If you don’t win the free throw battle, the rebounding battle and the turnover battle, it’s really difficult,” Donovan said. “And for us, we’ve gotten destroyed in the turnover battle the whole entire year.”

The Bulls play at the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

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Oklahoma City Thunder change jerseys at half after mix-up with Atlanta Hawks

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Despite leading the Atlanta Hawks by eight points going into the halftime break on Friday, the Oklahoma City Thunder made a drastic second-half adjustment: They completely changed uniforms.

Because of a breakdown in the uniform selection and approval process, the Thunder and Hawks played the first half wearing extremely similar colors, the Hawks in their red “icon” uniforms and the Thunder in their orange “statement” alternates.

On television, the combination was especially bad.

The league requested the jersey change, a Thunder spokesperson said. The Hawks had only their red “icon” jerseys on their road trip, so the Thunder made the change to white for the second half.

With teams having multiple combinations and alternates to wear, and no longer observing the traditional standard of home white and road color, the uniform-selection process is done before the season for the entire schedule using an input system called LockerVision. The home team picks first, then the road team.

The league double-checks all combinations and approves them, but the Thunder and Hawks mistakenly slipped through the approval process, according to a league spokesperson.

Typically, when there are close contrasts such as the red-orange issue with OKC and Atlanta, the league catches it and corrects it before it happens. According to a league source, this is the first time in more than 4,000 games this has happened since the system was introduced.

There have been other notable basketball wardrobe malfunctions, such as the Argentina women’s national team forfeiting a game in the 2019 Pan Am Games because its players had the wrong jerseys on. In the 2002 NIT, both Syracuse and South Carolina showed up wearing white uniforms, with Syracuse changing in the first half and wearing orange tops and white shorts.

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G League looking into claim made by Jeremy Lin that he was called ‘coronavirus’ on court

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The G League is investigating a claim made by Jeremy Lin that he was called “coronavirus” during a game, a league official told ESPN’s Marc Spears on Friday.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Lin, the former NBA guard now playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors on the G League, spoke out about the racism he believes the Asian-American community continues to deal with and offered examples that he said he’s experienced.

“Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court,” he wrote.

Lin didn’t specify when he was called that, and it was unclear whether the incident occurred in the G League bubble in Orlando, Florida, where Lin currently is playing as a member of Santa Cruz, the Warriors‘ affiliate.

On Friday night, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he’d like to see the NBA investigate Lin’s claim.

“I just saw the Facebook post just now,” Kerr said. “Really powerful. I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian-American community. It’s just so ridiculous and obviously spawned by many people including our former President (Donald Trump), as it relates to the coronavirus originating in China. It’s just shocking. I don’t know — I can’t wrap my head around any of it, but I can’t wrap my head around racism in general.”

Lin became the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent when he broke in with the Warriors during the 2010-11 season. He became best known for a hot scoring stretch — one that led to wins with the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 season — that was described as “Linsanity.” In total, the former Harvard star averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists in 480 games in the NBA from 2010 to 2019.

He previously had spoken out about racist taunts he received while playing, saying in a 2017 podcast that while some came during his time in the NBA, they were far worse during his four years at Harvard while competing on the road from 2006 to ’10.

In his Facebook post Thursday, Lin said the current generation of Asian Americans “is tired of being told that we don’t experience racism.”

“We are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble,” he wrote. “We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we’re inherently unattractive. We are tired of the stereotypes in Hollywood affecting our psyche and limiting who we think we can be. We are tired of being invisible, of being mistaken for our colleague or told our struggles aren’t as real.

“I want better for my elders who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a life for themselves here. I want better for my niece and nephew and future kids. I want better for the next generation of Asian American athletes than to have to work so hard to just be ‘deceptively athletic.'”

Before his G League stint this season, Lin had been playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.

When asked specifically about whether he would like to see an investigation regarding Lin’s claim, Kerr quickly answered Friday.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “As I said, I saw the post, the reference was a little bit vague, so I think it would be good to know what happened.”

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Elijah Millsap expresses concerns about probe into allegation against Utah Jazz executive

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MIAMI — Former Utah guard Elijah Millsap said Friday that he has not yet heard from any investigators regarding his allegation that Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey made a bigoted comment to him during an end-of-season meeting in 2015.

Millsap also expressed doubt that a fair investigation could take place regarding his claim that Lindsey, who then was the team’s general manager and now is an executive vice president, threatened to cut his “Black ass” and send him home.

Millsap made the allegation in a tweet on Wednesday. The Jazz responded Thursday, saying in a statement they would bring in outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation along with the NBA.

“Obviously, I know my truth,” Millsap said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Some outside counsel or somebody, all they can do is just try to stir it up and make it me look as if I’m lying. I did it basically to free myself from the torture of holding things in, to free myself, not to make Dennis Lindsey feel bad and not to make him look like a racist. I don’t feel he is a racist, but I do know what he said to me.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed the league’s involvement Friday.

“We take allegations of discrimination seriously, so do we also take the due process rights of those who are being accused, which is why we do full investigations,” Silver said. “And in this case, the investigation is being conducted in partnership and in coordination with the Utah Jazz.”

Millsap played in 67 games for the Jazz over two seasons. The incident in question came from an April 2015 exit meeting, which Millsap — the brother of longtime Utah standout Paul Millsap — said was also attended by Jazz coach Quin Snyder.

General manager Justin Zanik, who was then an assistant general manager tasked with keeping detailed notes of the conversation, was also in the meeting, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Those notes were entered into a team database and will be examined as part of the investigation, sources said.

Millsap said he remembers being “high energy” going into that meeting and eager to hear what Lindsey and Snyder would say to him.

“I was expecting great feedback,” Millsap said. “And then it took a turn for the worse.”

Millsap said Lindsey told him, “If u say one more word, I’ll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana.”

Millsap met with reporters shortly after leaving the meeting with Snyder and Lindsey and did not show any signs of being upset. He was waived by the Jazz in January 2016, a day before the remainder of his contract for that season would have been guaranteed, he said. Such moves are not uncommon with non-guaranteed deals.

Lindsey has denied making the comment. Snyder has said he has no recollection of it happening, and defended Lindsey again on Friday before the Jazz played in Miami.

“I’ve never heard anything remotely close to that from Dennis,” Snyder said. “I haven’t heard anything, like I said, remotely close to that and know him and his character. And I also think that if something like that were ever said, I’m sensitive to those issues and I would remember it.”

Millsap appeared in only two more NBA games after the Jazz waived him, and said he believes the team has not spoken well of him when other teams asked about his background. He said he still works out for several hours a day and would like to resume his playing career.

Millsap said he doesn’t have any specific resolution that would satisfy him in mind.

“These guys, they had the opportunity to tell people the truth about who I was,” Millsap said. “And they didn’t do that. That’s disgusting to me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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