Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan drops 38 to Los Angeles Lakers in return

CHICAGO – In his first game in more than two weeks after erasing NBA health and safety protocols, Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan tied a season-high 38 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Bulls to a 115-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at the United Center.

DeRozan was playing his first game since Dec. 4, and the Bulls were playing for the first time in more than a week after postponing two games amid a tag team COVID-19 outbreak. Although DeRozan was one of 10 Bulls players who landed in league protocols, he did not experience any symptoms of the virus.

Instead, he spent most of his time in quarantine dealing with boredom – stretching, skipping, doing push-ups – whatever he could to stay active. DeRozan was so eager to get back on the pitch that immediately after being released from his 10-day quarantine he said he went to the Bulls’ training facility to take shots at 1:00 a.m.

“I felt like a free bird,” DeRozan said of being able to play again on Sunday. “Just going out, being with these guys, being in front of the fans. Just getting out of the basement I was in for 10 days.”

DeRozan was one of four Bulls players who cleared the league’s health and safety protocols to play on Sunday night, including Coby White, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr., who did not return after halftime. due to an injury to the left thigh. In addition to DeRozan’s nighttime shooting session, the Bulls had team practice the day before, but DeRozan still picked up where he left off since earlier this month.

He finished 11 of 24 from the field on Sunday and knocked down 16 of his 17 attempts from the free throw line to go along with six assists and four rebounds.

DeRozan is averaging 8.2 points per game in the fourth quarter this season, the highest in the NBA, while shooting 53.8% from the field, 45.5% from 3 and 91.2% from the line. free throws. According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, no player in the past 25 seasons has averaged at least eight points in the fourth quarter while shooting 50% from the field and 90% from the line (min. 10 games).

“When the ball is in his hands there is only calm,” said Bulls coach Billy Donovan. “He’s not shaken up. He’s been through so many of these times throughout his life and career. I think things have slowed down for him. He knows exactly what he needs to do, what needs to be. does and he finds ways to stay totally locked up. It really is an amazing gift that he has. “

Donovan wanted to be careful with DeRozan’s workload in his first comeback from an extended absence, but with Bulls star Zach LaVine among the roster still on health and safety protocols, DeRozan said. that he knew he had to take over.

He shot 7 of 11 in the fourth quarter, including knocking down a jumper with 52.6 seconds left. His 19 points in the fourth quarter were the most important of his career.

“The fact that he’s using the midrange, a lot of people want to discredit that part of the game, but I think it’s a lost art,” Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony said. “DeMar is one of the guys who got this mastered. And at the end of the game when you have to slow down and you have to run something, the 3’s don’t fall, you got to be able to do it. He got it mastered. He got it. has mastered his places on the pitch and I think that’s why he’s very effective, especially this season, in the fourth quarter, especially in the home stretch.

Anthony saw it firsthand because DeRozan has been at his best this season against the Lakers – his two most defining games this season have both been against LA DeRozan, from Compton, Calif., Admitted that He had an interest in signing with his hometown side in the offseason before Los Angeles was finally traded to Russell Westbrook.

DeRozan was asked after the game if it was a coincidence.

“Do you think it’s a coincidence?” DeRozan said with a smile. “No. I don’t know. Maybe it is.”

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