April 15, 2021 | 8:19 am EDT Update
Added Zach LaVine, who scored 21 of his 30 points in the fourth but also had a crucial turnover late: “We didn’t play hard enough until the fourth quarter.” Don’t blame Young. He played just 14 minutes, his second-fewest this season, in another clear sign that Donovan is trying to find the right mix for his new toys. “We’re just still trying to find our identity. Who are we going to be as a team? How we’re going to play? What we’re going to do?” Young said. “On the defensive side, I think we still have a lot of, ‘What are we doing out there?’ Or, ‘How are we supposed to do this?’ It’s a lot of thinking that’s still going on. And trying to process how we need to play and what lineups need to be out there and how these lineups all work together.”
Thanks to Carter’s 19 points and 12 rebounds, as well as a defense that looked like it had somewhere else to be all evening, the Bulls dropped to 3-8 since the roster facelift, losing 115-106. After the game, coach Billy Donovan wasn’t about to sugarcoat this one. “We are not in a position right now to be looking at anybody and thinking we’re better than anybody,’’ Donovan said. “It doesn’t make a difference who we line up against. It could be a college team or high school team. If we’re not going [to] really be desperate and have that sense of urgency, I think this idea of when we sit there and say, ‘Well this team’s record is this.’ ‘This is one of the worst teams.’ Well, where are we at?’’
“And I think there’s sometimes this perception of ‘Oh wow, this is a team that is vying for a championship.’ No! We’re not. We’ve got to build those habits and we have not built them on a consistent enough level. “I don’t look at it all as Minnesota’s record, Orlando’s record. We don’t have that luxury. Because you know what? Is Orlando saying the same thing about us? Is Minnesota saying the same thing about us?”
Head coach Billy Donovan was once again asked about struggling rookie Patrick Williams in the starting lineup and possible changes moving forward. While there are no plans to make a move, Donovan made it very clear he will always do what’s best for the team. “I wouldn’t say he’s untouchable,’’ Donovan said. “Patrick I don’t think is any different from any guy on this team. He would do whatever he could to help the group.’’
“My team in Orlando was very special to me,’’ Vucevic said. “I came there as a kid and I left nine years later, but what I’m most proud of is the last couple years because we went through a lot, went through a rebuild and then a rebuild kind [of] again, and then we finally made the playoffs two years in a row, and I was able to become a two-time All-Star. “Hopefully fans will always remember me as someone who played hard, competed and gave his best. Hopefully they’ll remember my legacy there as something good. . . . At least now I can talk about it without crying, which is not bad. It’s a step forward.’’
Noel signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Knicks. Noel thought he was worth more, but there were no bigger offers, and he eventually split with his agent, Rich Paul, in December. The former Kentucky product will be a free agent after this season and is having a strong audition. Knicks brass must decide this August whether to extend Robinson’s contract or let him become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. They can give themselves options by bringing back Noel, who is just 27 and a former lottery pick, on a multi-year deal.