DeRozan offers his guarantee with a career-best night originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
MILWAUKEE — For some players, what DeMar DeRozan said might have bordered on dare. On his part, his guarantee sounded like a fatality.
“No way am I shooting 6 for 25 again,” said the Chicago Bulls“said All-Star.
Those words came Sunday night, following DeRozan’s disappointing shooting performance in the Bulls’ Game 1 loss to defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
But DeRozan didn’t just talk. He walked the walk. DeRozan scored a career-high 41 points on Wednesday night to help the Bulls even the series with an emphatic Game 2 victory. And he laid the foundation for performance with his actions.
After the Bulls’ bus ride to Milwaukee from Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, DeRozan came to the Fiserv Forum to get some extra shots.
“Since I’ve been in the playoffs, I’ve been doing it all the time,” DeRozan said of the move. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to shoot at the United Center (Thursday) night.”
By making 16 of 31 shots, DeRozan became the fifth Bull in franchise history to score 40 points in a playoff game. It’s the first since Derrick Rose in 2011.
“I looked at all my missed shots from Game 1. Most of those shots I got to my spots,” DeRozan said. “I never let a miss deter me from making my next jump or not being aggressive. I just knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
DeRozan came in most important when the Bulls needed him most. The Bucks stormed back, rallying from an 18-point deficit with a huge third-quarter run to cut the deficit to three points.
But DeRozan sank an 18-footer, rebounded a miss from Khris Middleton and sank two free throws to cut the lead to seven at the end of the quarter. Then he continued his hot manners as part of a 9-0 run to open the fourth, burying consecutive jumpers over Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Asked about this stretch while sitting alongside teammate Alex Caruso during their shared post-match media session, Caruso cut it short.
“He’s good,” said Alex Caruso.
“What he said,” DeRozan added with a laugh.
In all, DeRozan sank eight of nine shots in a game against Antetokounmpo, a former Defensive Player of the Year. It’s trust.
“He’s capable of doing that (scoring 41 points) every night. He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a scorer,” Nikola Vucevic said. “He plays with such poise. He missed a few shots in the first game that he usually shoots well. He stayed aggressive. Obviously he hit some really tough ones, especially down the stretch.”
Indeed, DeRozan’s driving layup and finish on Antetokounmpo with 18.2 seconds left following offensive rebounds from Caruso and Vucevic served as a dagger. After the shot, DeRozan, who logged 44 minutes, stayed on the court for an extra second, briefly showing either exhaustion or that he is human.
However, there is no guarantee on the latter.