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DeMar DeRozan Delivers in Crunch Time for the Chicago Bulls

Will Gottlieb Avatar
March 14, 2024

Led by DeMar DeRozan’s fourth quarter and overtime heroics, the Chicago Bulls come away with a massive overtime 132-129 win, on the road, against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night.

Here are my notes and takeaways from the game:

— DeRozan was absolutely sensational. He scored 46 points on 15-of-24 shooting and 15-of-17 from the free throw line. One of those free throws was an intentional miss and he shot 14-of-18 on two-point attempts. He completely controlled, manipulated and dominated the game through his ability to pick on mismatches, draw fouls and make some insanely difficult jumpers.

— Up three with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation, the Pacers intentionally fouled DeRozan, putting him at the line. He made the first, intentionally missed the second, giving the Bulls a chance to get an offensive rebound and retain possession. Pacers forward Obi Toppin tipped the ball away from Andre Drummond, but it went out of bounds, setting up the buzzer-beater.

— Then, this happened.

— DeRozan is making a strong case for himself for Clutch Player of the Year. After scoring 18-of-46 game in the fourth quarter and overtime on 6-of-9 shooting, DeRozan now a mere four points behind Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in total “clutch” points scored this season — points scored in the final five minutes of a game that is within five points.

The team is 23-15 in clutch games, and in those moments, he averages 4.6 points (which is second in the NBA behind only Curry), on 52.2 percent shooting, 50 percent on threes and 87.1 percent from the line.

The one thing he was lacking was a signature game-winning/game-tying shot to secure a case for himself.

He now has it.

— In overtime, DeRozan scored the team’s first three baskets. Then, seemingly exhausted from 44 minutes of heavy lifting, Nikola Vucevic, Ayo Dosunmu and Torrey Craig, set up by Alex Caruso, scored the final three Bulls baskets to seal the game.

It was nice to see some of the other players on the team create offense as the Pacers were attempting to remove DeRozan from the offense by denying him the ball at half court. But the contrast of how the team generates offense with vs. without him on the ball was stark. The role, opportunity and impact he has on raising the floor of the group to where it currently stands leads him to a position of strong leverage ahead of his free agency this summer.

— Caruso set a season-high with 23 points. He did so on a season-high tying five made three’s, four of which came in the third quarter. He did well facilitating out of the short roll when the Pacers doubled DeRozan, giving him an opportunity to play 4-on-3. He racked up seven assists and also had a fantastic contest from behind on Tyrese Haliburton’s final attempt to tie the game in overtime.

— Coby White left the game with a hip injury in the fourth quarter after Pascal Siakam landed awkwardly on his leg following a chasedown block. White struggled with his efficiency, scoring 15 points on 6-of-17 field goal attempts and only 1-of-3 on three-pointers.

White will undergo further testing on the hip when the team returns to Chicago, but so far, the severity of the injury is unknown. He has played all 66 games for the Bulls so far, so his streak is in jeopardy ahead of Thursday’s rematch with the Los Angeles Clippers.

— This was a huge game for the Play-In Standings, as the Bulls give themselves a chance to climb into 7-8 territory. With the win, they now hold the tiebreaker with Indiana, who sits 4.5 games ahead of them in 7th place. They’ll face the Pacers once more this season on March 27th. Still, the Miami Heat are 3.5 games ahead in 8th.

— The Bulls are back in action on the second night of a back-to-back, at home against the Clippers on Thursday night as the push for .500 continues.

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