DeMar DeRozan Credits ‘Extremely Rough’ Moment for Bulls’ Turnaround

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan finished the regular season on a high note, even as the team narrowly lost to the No. 2 seeded New York Knicks.

DeRozan had 30 points, five assists, five rebounds, four steals, and one block in the game. But it wasn’t enough as the Bulls fell to the Knicks 120-119 affair on April 14, capping off a tumultuous 39-43 season.

For DeRozan, it was one that deeply tested even a proven veteran such as himself.

“To be honest, we had some lows that, for me, means the most,” DeRozan said,” per NBC Sports’ Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on April 14. “I ain’t gonna give it away of when, but there was a time it got extremely rough for my part. The bond and the closeness we had after that meant a lot. So even though it was an extremely bad moment, it meant a lot for us to change over the season.

“I don’t look at whatever negatives happen as a bad thing because we bonded back from it in a whole different way if we didn’t have that moment.”

According to Johnson, the low point was a “heated exchange” with teammate Jevon Carter during a film session. Johnson noted that DeRozan went over to Carter’s locker for a laughter-filled moment after his comments.

DeRozan and Carter have remained close despite the ordeal.

The Bulls started the season 5-14 but went 34-29 the rest of the way. That was the seventh-best mark in the Eastern Conference from that point on.

This is not the first clash of characters in the Bulls locker room, or even involving DeRozan.

He and Zach LaVine have had words while there was also some friction between Nikola Vucevic and former Bulls guard Patrick Beverley upon the latter’s arrival last season.

Jevon Carter Caps Rough 1st Season With 0-for-8 Night

Carter had an especially rough night that encapsulated his first season with his hometown team. He went 0-for-8 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, with two assists, and one rebound.

Carter averaged 5.0 points and shot 33.8% from deep – the second-lowest mark of his six-year career – after signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract in free agency this past offseason.

The Bulls could need him in the Play-In Tournament against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.

Ayo Dosunmu and Andre Drummond both missed the regular season finale, and neither is a lock to play in the Play-In game versus the Hawks on April 17, per The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley.

The Bulls are already without LaVine and Patrick Williams, both of whom were lost for the season during the campaign, and Lonzo Ball.

Ball has not played in more than two calendar years.

DeMar DeRozan vs Hawks This Season

The Bulls will rely on a familiar formula against the Hawks, who are dealing with injury woes of their own. They will need a lot of DeRozan, who logged 44 minutes versus the Knicks and led the NBA in total minutes at 34 years old in his 15th NBA season.

DeRozan led the Bulls to a 2-1 record against the Hawks during the regular season, averaging 28.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in those contests.

The points were DeRozan’s fifth-best mark against any team this season.

His plus-6.2 net rating against the Hawks was his eighth-highest mark against any team the year, per Basketball Reference. He figures to benefit from the Hawks’ injuries, which have depleted their frontcourt.