Bulls needed Dosunmu's scoring skills with second unit
The Bulls' second unit was a disappointment in the first half against Detroit on Wednesday, managing just 3 points on a single 3-pointer from Alex Caruso.
So coach Billy Donovan changed the rotation he had in mind and gave rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu a longer run in the second half.
The former Illini star ended up being the Bulls' leading bench scorer with 7 points and the only reserve to finish with a positive plus-minus in the Bulls' narrow 94-88 victory.
After the game, Donovan suggested Dosunmu had been knocking on the door during preseason.
"He's played really, really well in practice and really well in some of the preseason games," Donovan said. "He's not afraid. He's got a great competitive spirit, he's a tough kid. He's played very well in training camp."
By the end of the night, the Bulls had only 10 bench points -- seven by Dosunmu and the three from Caruso. Troy Brown Jr. had been under the weather, so Donovan played him just 4 minutes in the first half.
It's too soon to tell if bench strength is a weakness for the Bulls, but it looks like they need an offensive-minded guard like Dosunmu in the rotation. Plus, they'll want to get him acclimated. Dosunmu showed a few jitters, missing an open layup and dropping a pass when he could have had a good look from three.
"That does a lot for a young guy confidence-wise," teammate DeMar DeRozan said of Dosunmu. "You get thrown into a big game like that and come in and he had some great looks, he made some great plays and that's great for a young guy. He's definitely talented. He's one of my favorite rookies and is definitely going to be something in a couple years."
Defensive weakness found:
One area of concern proved to be just that, as the Pistons tried to bully the Bulls' small front line. Whether it was starters Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey going at DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams, or reserves Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles pushing Javonte Gree and Alize Johnson, there was little question about Detroit's offensive strategy.
Grant, Bey, Olynyk and center Isiah Stewart all scored in double figures, but the Pistons didn't have the guard strength to stay with the Bulls. No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham was sidelined by an ankle injury and second-year guard Killian Hayes went scoreless in 20 minutes.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan made an interesting choice late in the game, using Alex Caruso against the 6-8 Grant down the stretch. Caruso finished with 5 fouls and gave way to Patrick Williams at the very end, but the Pistons scored just 6 points in the final seven minutes, which ultimately decided the game.
"Alex is an elite, tough defender, " said Donovan, who coached Grant for three years in Oklahoma City. "I thought if they started to post Jerami the last 3 or 4 minutes of the game and we were having a hard time with it, I probably would have brought Patrick in sooner. But I thought with him on the perimeter, Grant driving, Alex did a good job moving his feet."
Seven Bulls make list:
The NBA released its list of the 75 greatest players Thursday and seven Bulls made the list. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were obvious picks, while the others were better known for playing in other cities -- Dennis Rodman, Nate Thurmond, George Gervin, Robert Parrish and Dwyane Wade.