For much of Friday’s Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers game, Chicago forward DeMar DeRozan was having a rough time. On the day, DeRozan finished eight for 24 from the field, and while he still put up a team-high 28 points, that was largely about his 11-for-13 performance from the free-throw line. However, DeRozan (seen above taking a first-quarter shot) came through at the most crucial point, draining a long three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bulls a 108-106 win:
DeMar DeRozan game winner!!!! pic.twitter.com/NAusW96hBp
— Ⓜ️𝕒𝕣𝕔𝕦𝕤𝔻 ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) December 31, 2021
Interestingly enough, despite DeRozan’s long NBA career (and despite him usually being a prominent option on the teams he’s played for), that was only his second career buzzer-beater for a win:
Bulls DeMar DeRozan
2nd career game-winning buzzer beater; 1st since Jan 24, 2013 as a member of the Raptors.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 31, 2021
But on the whole, DeRozan has been very good this year. ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Friday morning that DeRozan’s offseason move to Chicago is working out well for both sides:
Once in a while, a player’s mental and physical skills meet at their respective apexes, and at that moment, he lands on a team that puts him in ideal position to succeed. All the discrete skills the player spent years honing are finally ready to flourish together on a team playing for real stakes — a team that needs the fully actualized version of that player.
That rare sports alchemy is happening now with DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls. In Toronto, DeRozan established himself as an old-school midrange scorer. He used his deadly pump-fake to earn heaps of free throws. (Seriously: The Hall of Fame should create some kind of interactive exhibit where fans see how long they can defend hologram DeRozan without biting on his fake.)
…Everything has coalesced with the Bulls. It’s a match of player, team, and timing that makes you believe in hokey sports destiny — like every tidbit of DeRozan’s growth, every setback, every achievement, was leading to this role.
And despite having one of his worst shooting games of the season Friday, DeRozan still nailed a big shot at the most crucial moment. And that has the Bulls in first place in the Eastern Conference.
[Marcus D3 on Twitter; photo from Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports]