DeMar DeRozan conjured yet another moment of late-game magic, powering the Chicago Bulls to a 15-point comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks and a 119-113 overtime win after trailing for most of the game.
The Bucks inadvertently lit a fire under DeRozan after a hard hit from Grayson Allen sparked a third-quarter scuffle as DeRozan attempted to confront the Bucks guard.
DeRozan already had 20 points at that point, but after several out-of-sync minutes, he shifted into a different gear to lead the Bulls’ late charge. After his layup with 13.8 seconds to play cut the Bucks lead to 106-104, DeRozan snatched a pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo to set up Ayo Dosunmu for the tying dunk with 7.8 seconds remaining.
DeRozan then took over in overtime, scoring 10 of his 42 points as the Bulls sealed the victory. He closed the game with his signature flair, sinking a jumper with 31 seconds left to put the Bulls ahead by two, then snagging a rebound and making four free throws to clinch the comeback.
- The Bulls are learning how to close — especially behind DeRozan, who again displayed his late-game wizardry. After trailing 94-79 with 8:08 to play, the Bulls outscored the Bucks 27-12 over the remainder of regulation to force overtime.
- The Bulls defense held the Bucks to two points in the final four minutes of regulation and seven points in overtime — in large part due to their defense on Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star turned the ball over twice in the final 11 seconds of regulation and continued to struggle to protect the ball in overtime while going 1-for-7 from the field in the extra period.
- The Bucks were streaky all night, going on runs to take multiple double-digit leads, but the Bulls bounced back each time to erase those deficits. The Bulls had an 11-1 run to start the second quarter and closed regulation on a 13-2 run.
- Despite taking half as many 3-pointers as the Bucks, the Bulls were able to keep pace behind the arc on a poor shooting night for Milwaukee. Both teams finished with nine 3-pointers, but the Bucks attempted 44 while the Bulls took 22. Zach LaVine led the Bulls, going 4-for-7 from deep.
- The Bulls were fairly successful guarding Antetokounmpo in the first half — but even with solid defensive pressure, he still scored 20 points before halftime and finished with 45 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists.
- Size is always an issue when the Bulls face the Bucks, who bring a powerful presence in the paint with Antetokounmpo and center Brook Lopez. The Bulls were outrebounded 22-8 on the offensive glass and outscored 23-9 on second-chance points.
- Bucks forward Bobby Portis brings the heat whenever he plays his former team. Wednesday was no different — Portis tallied 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
- Bulls guard Coby White suffered a left leg injury in the first quarter after playing only six minutes. The Bulls were already thin in the backcourt with the absence of Alex Caruso.
DeRozan flashed an aggressive approach from the opening whistle in an immediately physical game.
He made a statement whenever guarded by Antetokounmpo in the first half, digging his shoulder into the taller forward’s chest to utilize the size difference to his advantage. He scored 16 points in the first half, going 7-for-12 from the field as the Bulls led by two.
And it should come as no surprise that it was DeRozan who came up clutch for the Bulls in the waning seconds of regulation with the layup, steal and assist on Dosunmu’s tying dunk.
In addition to White’s injury, the Bulls again were missing two of their defensive specialists in Caruso (shoulder sprain) and forward Derrick Jones Jr. (left ankle sprain).
Forward Javonte Green was cleared for limited availability after missing the last five games and eight of the last 11 with a bone bruise in his right knee. He played nearly 17 minutes and tallied five points, two rebounds and one assist.
The Bucks were missing defensive star Jrue Holiday (non-COVID illness) and forward Khris Middleton (right knee soreness).
Dalen Terry tracker
Rookie Dalen Terry made his first appearance in the second quarter for the second game in a row but checked back out barely a minute later after registering nothing on the stat sheet.
Terry did not see much more action in the second half even after White’s injury, logging four minutes and taking a single shot.
Where they stand
The Bulls improved to 15-19 with the win, now tied with the Toronto Raptors for 10th in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls will host back-to-back games at the United Center this weekend, facing the Detroit Pistons on Friday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.