The Chicago Bulls have had a brutal time with injuries and COVID-19-related absences this season, and are currently playing without four important rotation pieces: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams and Javonte Green. They do still have DeMar DeRozan, however, and more often than not, that’s enough.
It certainly was on Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as DeRozan turned in another masterclass, finishing with 38 points, six rebounds and five assists on 12 of 24 from the field to lead the Bulls back from a 14-point deficit to secure a 106-101 win.
As per usual, DeRozan’s shot-making was just on a different level. Yes, the Thunder have a poor record, but this wasn’t a game where he was just feasting against a tanking team going through the motions. He hit tough shot after tough shot, often with a hand in his face.
With that performance, he recorded his fifth straight 35-point game, becoming the first Bulls player to accomplish that since Michael Jordan in 1996. In addition, he’s now scored 30-plus points in six straight games, which is the longest streak of his career. The Bulls are 4-2 during that stretch, and DeRozan is averaging 37.2 points on 56.8 percent shooting from the field.
This is, without a doubt, the best scoring stretch of DeRozan’s career, but he claims he’s not doing anything different or special, and still thinks about how he could be better.
“I don’t know what roll I’m on,” DeRozan said. “I’m just being myself. … Just because I have a good game, I always look at all the negative things that happened, things I could’ve did better. There hasn’t been a game where I walked away from it saying, ‘I did everything perfect.’ There’s always room for some type of improvement.”
Bulls coach Billy Donovan, though, was willing to give his star the praise he deserves: “He’s as good of a scorer as I’ve been around.” That’s high praise from someone who coached Kevin Durant.
Thanks to DeRozan’s heroics, the Bulls have now won three games in a row to keep pace with the Miami Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference. Despite being shorthanded for so long, they’re still only one game out of first place.