The Chicago Bulls (22-24) 111-100 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks saw them shake off jet lag and play one game in the past week to come away the victor. A game that started ugly offensively with only 38 points combined in the first quarter.
It was a memorable frame, nonetheless, as the Bulls and fans celebrated DeMar DeRozan reaching the 1000-game mark in a career littered with achievements and powered by consistency and longevity. This is the second milestone DeRozan has surpassed this season having surpassed 20000 points in October.
That it came is a big win – the Bulls’ third straight – surely made it that much sweeter.
Being able to share the moment with his teammates couldn’t have hurt and Nikola Vucevic took to social media to express just how significant the moment was and DeRozan is.
Nikola Vucevic Shouts Out DeMar DeRozan
“Congrats brother,” Vucevic tweeted after the game which included DeRozan going for 26 points on 11-for-21 shooting with nine of those points coming in the fourth quarter. “Honored that I get to share the court with a great one!”
He closed his message with a pointed hashtag or “you’re old”.
DeRozan and Vucevic’s history dates back long before the Bulls with the veteran duo spending a year together as freshmen at USC in 2009. While DeRozan would jump to the NBA after one season, Vucevic would complete three years, though both players would go on to be first-round picks.
The former was taken ninth overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2009 NBA Draft while Vucevic would go 16th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
To have their paths cross with the Bulls is not so much fate as intervention.
Vucevic helped pitch the Bulls to DeRozan when the latter hit free agency from a three-year stint with the San Antonio Spurs. Surely the Bulls offering more than anyone else – to the tune of three years and $81.9 million – did much of the heavy lifting.
But DeRozan revealed that teaming up had long been a design of theirs dating back to Vucevic’s time in Orlando.
“It really came from Vučević,” DeRozan said on ‘No Chill with Gilbert Arenas’ on Fubo Sports, in August of 2021 when he first arrived. “That was my man for years, even when he was in Orlando, we always was trying to figure out, like, ‘We need to play together, we need to play together.’”
What often was “BS” turned real, cemented by a conversation with Zach LaVine, DeRozan said.
A Resurgent Nikola Vucevic
The moment was not insignificant for the embattled Vucevic, either, with the big man putting up 14 points, and 17 rebounds for his 11th straight double-double and his 27th of the season, fifth-most in the NBA.
What’s more, Vucevic dished out seven assists for the second time this season falling three short of his season-high set in a 126-112 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
His deep ball has returned as well with Vucevic knocking down 38.2% of those looks in that 18-game span and 37% on the season following a down night in which he went just 1-for-5 from long distance. Still, his bounce-back season is coming at a perfect time as he plays out the final year of his contract destined for unrestricted free agency.