Speaking to reporters after Wednesday's 118-113 loss to the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he "didn't quite understand" the reasoning behind a controversial fourth-quarter foul call made by officials, and upheld after review, on Lonzo Ball.
"The call made zero sense to me," Donovan said. "Now, I'm not saying it made zero sense to me because I don't agree with what they said. The way they explained it to me, and what I was able to see (on the in-arena cameras), did not make sense. So if I can get a different camera view, I can maybe understand what they're talking about.
"But it seemed so far-fetched about what they were telling me, it just didn't make sense to me. And I'm not sitting there saying they were wrong on it, they're obviously looking at it and reviewing it. But I really don't know how you make a call like that based on what I saw."
The call came at the 5:13 mark of the fourth quarter with the Bulls trailing 99-94. Ball had knocked down a 3-pointer, but was whistled for an offensive foul on the play — presumably for initiating contact with the contesting defender, Kevin Porter Jr., after or in the process of releasing the ball.
"I was told he (Ball) shot it, he came down and fell down and kind of grabbed the guy (Porter Jr.)," Donovan said, emphasizing that "the way the video was in the arena," he didn't get a clear look at the play.
"I didn't see that," Donovan said, referencing the officials' explanation. "They said they had a full view on the replay thing to look at. So as they were explaining it to me, in all honesty, it made zero sense to me. Zero."
The play proved a pivotal moment in the game. Had Donovan's challenge been successful, the Bulls would have cut their deficit to 99-97 with just over five minutes to play. Instead, Danuel House buried a 3-pointer on Houston's next possession, making the score 102-94.
"It was such a big play in the game, that's why I challenged it," said Donovan, who typically reserves his coach's challenge for high-leverage plays in the final moments of games. "I lost the timeout, but I figured it was three points, potentially four if they would've reviewed it and he (Ball) would have been fouled. If it was a four-point play, it would have cut the lead to one."
Alas, the challenge was unsuccessful, and the stretch run unfolded in the Rockets' favor. The defeat was unequivocally the Bulls' worst of the season, dropping them 12-7, while the 2-16 Rockets snapped a 15-game losing streak.