Many things can be gleaned from the Chicago Bulls’ key 119-113 overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Not the least of which was the noticeably higher level of intensity and focus the Bulls came out with, racing out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.
That would not last, however, as they quickly found themselves down and, later, would go down by as much as 15 points.
But they went to the well they have gone to several times over the last two years.
Veteran star DeMar DeRozan went on a fourth-quarter tear that has become synonymous with his tenure in Chicago, scoring seven of his 42 points in the fourth quarter and then turning it up another notch in overtime with his final 10 points. He scored all but three of the Bulls’ 13 points in the final five minutes of the contest.
LaVine: ‘That’s the Type of Player He Is’
“Especially the next five minutes and down the stretch, he definitely had one thing on his mind,” LaVine said of a barrage of points from DeRozan following an altercation with Bucks guard Grayson Allen. “And that’s the type of player he is. You don’t want to fire somebody up like that.”
Allen got fouled by Bulls forward Patrick Williams sending the former into DeRozan with just under seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
DeRozan, by Allen’s admission, had a “normal reaction” to something he called incidental.
While his reputation precedes him, Allen can be seen trying to approach DeRozan – presumably to reconcile – immediately after the play. He said that was unable to make it over as things got intense rather quickly. The result was something the Bulls needed and will need going forward: resolve in the face of being tested.
DeRozan scored his final 22 points after that interaction lending credence to LaVine’s assertion about riling the veteran up.
“We know his track record,” LaVine said of Allen. “Pat got the foul, but DeMar got elbowed in the back of the head. It is what it is. We made up for it with a big win. DeMar responded the right way. The next 20 minutes, you saw what happened.”
LaVine finished with 24 points, tallying eight points in the fourth quarter, to go along with four assists, two rebounds, and his first turnover in three games.
For DeRozan, it was just another night at the office.
DeRozan did say he did not see what happened but did take Allen’s rep into account.
“If it was Boban [Marjanović], I wouldn’t have did nothing,” DeRozan said. “But who knows? I didn’t know if it was on purpose or what happened. I just felt a hit. That’s all it was.”
Toughing It Out
DeRozan’s response and LaVine’s reaction to it are just the latest flashpoint moment for this team to galvanize around. It is desperately needed amid recent reports of multiple team meetings and 1-on-1s to iron out chemistry issues, namely between DeRozan and LaVine.
The reports were clear that the duo has plenty of respect for one another and that their personal relationship remains strong.
But the on-court product just has not performed up to snuff this season.
Perhaps they can continue the run that led to their three-game winning streak before it was unceremoniously snapped by the Houston Rockets. If not, the image of LaVine standing over DeRozan in celebration after the win over the New York Knicks or his strong words after this game about the type of player DeRozan is will be drowned out by a reality they have fought back against to this point.