I’m not sure how the Bulls were able to come back and beat the Milwaukee Bucks but somehow the Bulls did just that behind 42 remarkable again points from “King of the Fourth” DeMar DeRozan.
The Bulls trailed 104-93 with 2:18 left and 106-98 with 1:36 left after a Giannis Antetokounmpo basket — his 42nd and 43rd points of the night. Antetokounmpo finished with 45, but did not score again in regulation and would be a tenth of a second late trying to chase down Ayo Dosunmu’s dunk off a DeRozan steal with 7.1 left.
The Bulls scored the final eight points of regulation, pitching a shutout the final 96 seconds to force overtime. Milwaukee scored the first four points in OT, but were outscored 11-3 from there. DeRozan had 10 of the Bulls 13 points in OT and assisted on the other basket, a Nikola Vucevic 3-pointer from out front. It was a tremendous win for the Bulls who needed one after Monday’s debacle versus Houston.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. DeMar DeRozan dominates overtime
It was an eventful night for DeRozan who got into a spat with Bulls irritant Grayson Allen. ( more on that to come ) It was DeRozan’s unselfish play in the OT that had Billy Donovan smiling in his postgame presser. DeRozan found both Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu for wide open three-point attempts that were off the mark, but continued to share the basketball hitting Nikola Vucevic for a wide open three that did go down. As good as DeRozan is, he has to share the basketball for the Bulls to win. The lack of shooting is something that could perhaps be addressed at the trade deadline, but for now even if Williams and Dosunmu are off the mark ( 0-5 combined from three tonight ) the ball needs to keep moving to the open man. DeRozan was aggressive taking the ball to the basket and got to the free-throw line a bunch, making 12-of-14. When asked about being down double digits late, DeRozan brought up Luka Doncic and the Mavs comeback. DeRozan didn’t quite match that stat line but 42 points, 10 rebounds and five assists will do.
2. Grayson Allen is a used car salesman
I do not think Allen was trying to hurt DeRozan when he cracked into him after being pushed by Patrick Williams. Allen was doing his normal trying to sell a call act and went too far falling into DeRozan. Williams said he told the refs he was strong, “but he wasn’t that strong” saying that he didn’t even extend his arms. For whatever reason, Allen cannot get out of his own way trying to gain things on the court that he does not deserve. It can be a bit of an epidemic across the league which can be credited to LeBron James for his LeFlopping. Allen hit some big shots but finished 3-14 and missed his final four shots. Two of those came in the final 90 seconds of regulation that would have iced the game for the Bucks. Too bad, so sad. Perhaps some karma is swirling around in the United Center.
3. The Bulls beat another good basketball team
Yes, the Bulls have struggled against the bottom of the NBA and are 4-9 against teams under .500. That is not a formula that can continue if the Bulls are going to be a playoff team. But the Bulls are also now 5-1 against the Celtics, Nets and Bucks. Two wins over a Milwaukee team — who did play without both Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton — is impressive. Donovan mentioned in his postgame presser that beating good teams was a big focal point starting the season and the Bulls have been able to do it. The Bulls were also missing Coby White who left with a leg injury, Alex Caruso who is not yet ready to play with a sore shoulder and Derrick Jones Jr. one of their better defenders.
Up next: The Bulls close out 2022 with visits from two division rivals — Detroit on Friday and Cleveland on Saturday for a New Year’s Eve game.